Sometimes i close my eyes and imagine things are different. I remember how things felt when they were right. I remember when my world was whole. I remember my Eden and it was good, god it was good. What was once a garden of love is a valley of death. Love is in me, joy is in me, God is with me, but digging through this hardened clay to find those waters that give life can be an outlandish task. I dig and dig and dig…and then i fall. Tend my wounds for a bit and start to dig again, searching for water like its my job.
If you see me or interact with me you might not even notice this struggle, I’ve been able to put on a happy face my entire life, no matter what the situation is. I’m a pro at it, but it’s not always the most healthy thing, i know that now and i’m working on it. I’m also noticing that its getting harder to hide behind a smile or a joke. On Saturday a small group of friends came over to my house to make pizzas and hang out with me. They are all friends that were close with US. I’m finding that this type of gathering is almost unbearable at times. Not because i don’t love them dearly, but because it makes her absence ever more present. We laughed and took turns playing with M, when it was time for me to put her to bed i was almost relieved. I read a book to her, sang “Jesus loves me”, turned the light off and put her in bed, I then lay on her floor as i do every night, and I wept, almost uncontrollably. I had reached my limit of smiles and jokes and Joy. I was empty and had nothing left. I stayed in her room for almost an hour, until the group had left. I could have come out earlier but i didn’t wanna face everyone with bloodshot eyes and i didn’t have it in me to cover up anymore.
I’m learning to be mindful of my limits, I’m learning what my limits are. This part is no fun at all, i don’t like the feeling of being limited. But often limits are there to protect us. Trying to see it that way. I’m thinking that maybe God places those limits in our lives so that He has a way and opportunity to step in and sustain us.. because He wants and desires for us to simply lean onto Him. Simple but hard. Simple but oh so hard.
This is a blog draft Hope wrote in march of 2014. I thought it perfect for today.
“there are so many things I love about San Francisco, like the way the sun and fog are always fighting over who will make an appearance. usually, the fog wins But I don’t mind it, i like the way it creeps in and dances its way through the trees in Golden Gate park, the way it covers the ocean like a blanket and the way the mist tickles your nose.” -Hope Joens
How do we handle death? We Don’t.
We ignore it.
We run from it.
We try and prevent it.
We fear it.
We hate it.
Death will most likely find us all. Even those of us who have the promise of eternity, death is still waiting for us. I am confident that death is the most difficult thing that we will face in our life.
My mind has been filled with these thoughts lately. Good Friday is almost here and i feel more acquainted with this day than ever. Mary watched her Son die, James watched his brother die, the disciples watched their master and Lord die. I watched my love die just over 4 months ago. Ben Gibbard wrote the line “love is watching someone die” in the song “What Sarah Said”. I wish more than ever that i did not have to watch her die, but i am also very thankful that i got to be the last face see saw before stepping into eternity and seeing Jesus, her master, and her creator. I have a sense of what those that loved and watched Jesus die were feeling. They felt fear and hate and i’m sure they wanted to run from it, ignore it, act like it didn’t happen, yet you replay it over and over in your mind to see if it was real. They had his promise that He would return again in the coming days. I have the promise that i will see her once again in heaven.. when all things are made new and right. I do not know when that day will be, but i yearn for it.
We used to listen to the DCFC song “what sarah said” and just stare at each other, long, paused moments. Much of the song talks about watching someone die in a hospital room. We were used to hospital rooms, they were a bitter sweet reality in our lives. We would spend hours watching lame TV shows and talking about our dreams and plans, talk about each doctor or nurse that came in and roll our eyes and their sometimes ridiculous questions or poorly placed jokes. I think we both thought she might pass away in a hospital room, surrounded by machines and doctors. Instead, she passed away in my arms, in our bed, in a home we loved and just moments after we had told each other how much we loved each other. I knew that some day i might be the one to watch her die, but i never wanted to fully believe it. I wanted to run from it, ignore it, hate it, fear it, prevent it. But i could not, and she could not.
Death is coming for us all. Don’t waste the precious life that He has given us here. Live a full life of love and scrape up as much Joy as you can. Life here is hard and painful but there are moments of joy, glimpses of how things are supposed to be, find those and hold them close. Never lose Hope.
For as long as i can remember I was always crushing on Hope. We dated in Jr.High and I could never let her go. Even as she dated others, I always felt I was the right one for her. I was just waiting for my moment. My moment came in a Hospital.
The band I was in had been leading worship at a youth camp up in the the mountains above LA, our church youth group was there and Hope was there as a leader. She had just broken up with someone she thought was the love of her life a couple weeks before the camp had started and we were all up there together. As the weekend went on Hope and her brother Matt (who lead our band, and was my best friend) received word that their grandmother was very ill and that they should come visit her in the hospital in orange county before she passed. The band and Hope piled into a van and drove down the mountain to the hospital. I can’t recall much of the drive, but i just remember feeling nervous for what was ahead and what was in store for my best friend and his sister. We parked the van and all walked in together, I remember gathering in the waiting room with the rest of her family and just trying support in any way i could. As the day went on each of the family members would go in and spend some time with their Grandma. Hours had passed, I watched as Hope had walked passed the waiting room after seeing her Grandma, I knew she was hurting and all I wanted to do was comfort her. I let her walk a while and then slowly got up and headed into the direction she went. I couldn’t find her. I walked to the elevators to get onto a different floor, as the elevator door opened there she was, teary eyed, alone, and hurting badly. I went into the elevator and just held her as she wept, I held her tight and i held her close, I can still remember how perfectly she fit into my arms and how perfect it felt to comfort her in a time of need.
A few weeks later we started to date. At the time of the hug in the elevator my only intention was to comfort my friend. She told me months later that the embrace in the elevator was the moment she knew she was supposed to be in my arms forever. We were 16. We were kids.
I am very aware of my inability to make things happen or to align the stars. But i am also very aware that moments like this can happen at any time. In the most unexpected of places. You just have to be there for those moments to happen. You have to embrace those moments and embrace the unknown. I am ready for those moments, and that’s ok.
This is the most confusing time in my life. Nothing is normal, and everything feels new.
I’ve started to get out there.. Dating. Its no easy game. The struggle is real. I used to see single people and just wanna shout GO DATE EACH OTHER, FIND SOMEONE, ITS NOT THAT HARD. I was completely wrong. When i was 16 it wasn’t that hard. I saw the best and prettiest girl I knew and waited patiently in the sidelines for my moment to strike. I struck pure gold. This time its a whole new world and I am lost in it. I’m not good at it. I will learn how to do this all i suppose, but this re-learning process is pretty terrible. I’ve already hurt and been hurt. And i have barely even started. Like i said in the start, I’m confused.
The next day it was warm and sunny.. she loved sunny days. After visiting the funeral home and picking out a casket.. i headed home. That afternoon in what was now “my” living room slowly filled with our closest friends and some family.. as I sit here writing this in that very room i can still see the look on faces.. i can still feel everyone’s kind hugs and broken spirits. Nothing was said as the room slowly filled with each body, but everything was felt. Tyler picked up a guitar and slowly just started picking at the strings, each note felt like an emotion. It was necessary, music is always there to express the deep parts in us all. After around an hour passed i finally spoke.. I think i mumbled something about her death and my love for everyone in that room.. they then surrounded me and laid hands on me and prayed for me. it felt as if God himself was laying his hand upon me. He was. Because we are his body. This never felt more real than in that moment. WE ARE HIS BODY. BE HIS BODY.