I couldn't understand what she was saying through the heavy fog of tears getting caught up in her throat.
Finally, it was audible.
"I feel their pain, Momma. I feel it in my bones and on my skin. I hurt with them."
I knew exactly what she meant.
My 14 year old daughter was mourning with those who mourn. She was wearing the heavy blanket of grief that comes when death swallows up a life unexpectedly.
Early that morning, we had left our house to attend a funeral.
The boy was 24. Young and full of life.
The boy was our cousin.
His young wife, and his four year old daughter left behind to make sense of the broken pieces shattered around them.
When the call came, my breath left me. The air dissolved from my lungs.
I quickly remembered my breathing exercises. Shorter inhale, longer exhale. Repeat.
Two weeks before, another cousin had left the Earth the same way. A car crash.
He was in his forties, leaving behind a young daughter.
Fear can grip your heart like a clamp with news like this. Fear can make you crazy if you let it.
Fear has no place here, I kept whispering it over and over.
Fear makes you want to call all your loved ones and tell them to stay where they are. Or better yet, come home. Huddle together. And to never leave. Or drive. Or do anything that could harm them.
Fear is irrational at best.
Fear will drive a mother crazy.
As I sat in the stained glass funeral parlor on a soft pew, I heard these words in my heart.
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
I wanted to stand up and shout it from the rooftops of that place.
I wanted to scream out loud, "death has no place here!"
My cousin was saved. He loved Jesus. He loved his family.
As I stared at the windows around me, I saw prisms of light breaking through.
A warmth coming in that cold room with a lifeless body.
My cousin was no longer with us, he was in the Warmth of God's Arms. I knew this. I felt this.
Those windows filled my heart with so much HOPE and even JOY through my snotty tears.
I heard the sound of the preacher talking, but my eyes stayed fixed on those windows. The warm glow was drawing me in.
For the first time in weeks, I felt a burst of Strength. And Joy. And Hope.
It was filling my lungs, my heart, my chest wall, my entire body was being saturated by it.
We will be okay.
The smothering feeling began to lift. I felt lighter suddenly.
We will be okay.
With death comes a re-birthing of sorts for those left behind.
It happened when my friend Heather died when I was in my mid thirties. Something changed inside of me.
God used my friend's death to make me more alive. How is that even possible?
Only God brings beauty from ashes. Life from death.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3
"Momma, we will see him again......"
My daughter's words were a balm to my soul.
Of course, I knew we would. But, I was so focused on the horror of things left behind to sort through. I had almost forgotten...
Faith as a child.
I get it now.
They see what we cannot sometimes.
As we snuggled close together in my bed, she whispered faintly...
"The windows, Momma. Did you notice the colorful light in the windows today during the funeral?"
I nodded, astonished that she saw too.
"Yes, baby. I saw...."
seeing the beauty in all these ashes,