A year ago at this time, I received the call that Dan's body was shutting down and there was nothing more to do. His kidneys had stopped filtering the poison in his body; his blood had stopped clotting; the cancer was raging - he was stopping.
...and the waters that had been swirling at my ankles, came up to my knees...
I wasn't ready. That morning I'd told my dad I didn't want to make any more decisions. And all that followed were decisions I never wanted to make. Certainly not then, at age 36.
We spent that drive to Ann Arbor in song, in prayer, pleading for Jesus to come - when most certainly, He was already in our midst.
I arrived at the hospital and was told that Dan had a moment where he was aware and nodded that he was ready to go...now, I had to do the impossible: let him.
...and the waters of grief began to surround me, coming to my waist, then my chest...
At 11, the priest came; then the doctors. 6:30 was chosen as the time we would have our little Mass for Dan, the Last Rites.
...and everything went into slow motion. Everything feels like you're underwater. Sounds are muffled. Faces of Dan's best friends and family are blurred. Time seems to be nonexistent, yet ever approaching.
I wanted to spend as much time in the sun that day.
...and the waters came, overtaking me into grief - into darkness and sadness,
where everything feels surreal,
where time becomes irrelevant,
where you drift along,
further and further from shore....
I never thought of that day like this until now.
Recognizing that grief feels a lot like drowning...the waters of death coming for you, too.
Cynthia Rasmussen says that a spouse dies, too, when theirs dies. I guess, but I didn't know it.
However, upon reflection, I think it's more like baptism. We were baptized into Christ's death - perhaps then, the same with our spouse. Their death can be a baptism for us - Jesus raises their spirits to new life, and breathes a new life into our souls.
I think of my Godson, Zander's, prayer for Dan that day:
"I know Dan is about to die...can you just clear all that water out? ...but in a few days, he will be raised to life!" Somehow, that 5 year old knew about the waters of death that sweep over us.
In light of all of this, it makes sense now, how I have felt "buoyed by Hope," this past year. I have been carried along by the waters of death and grief. Sometimes threatened to be taken under, sometimes your tears leave you gasping for air - as if through crying your heart can finally breathe.
More often than not, I have felt carried along - held and supported. I knew this was Jesus, for my Hope has a foundation and a name.
As a year circles around, I am realizing that I can do more than just ride the waves of grief, held captive by them.
Dan is not held captive by death. His death has freed him to be fully united in life with Jesus Christ. He is not just a body in the ground, but a being around us.
And so, I also do not have to be captive to grief because I know the One who walks on water. I can take his hand, and through the power of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, find life again. Through Jesus, there is life and there is life abundant - no matter the circumstance.
Jesus is not an idea. He is real. He is my real Hope. He is my real Way to Truth and Life. He is Life. "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."