Olympic Gold

Mom and Me. Note the Cheez-It Box in the Background. August, 2008.

A Medal in Grief
“We did NOT watch the Beijing Opening Ceremonies from my parents’ living room!” I’m indignant at the suggestion, and I can’t figure out why. I’m sheepish, too. So I apologize to my husband for my poor manners and trace the burnt fuse back through my memory.
What set off that bomb?
Mom was sick–suddenly and desperately sick–in the summer of 2008. Rich and I visited towards the end of August, right after her final birthday. We might have been there in time to watch the closing ceremonies, but certainly not the opening of the Olympic Games. 
A day later, I understand my furor: I hadn’t connected the Olympics to my mother’s illness. The two events were coincident, but my mind had not cross-referenced the memory cards. 
Now my husband has made that connection and I may never forgive him. I wanted to be done with this acute grief, the kind that runs human hearts through meat grinders, then offers them up on salty crackers as if they were meaningless little morsels. 
I do forgive him, of course, because it would be foolish and selfish and petty and mean to count it against him. He didn’t take my mother away. 
This grief leaves a sticky residue. I didn’t want to gunk up the Olympics, really. But they’re gunked up now, and gunked up they shall remain. The Summer Olympic Games are now one more Thing That Was Going On While My Mother Was Dying. 
Once I’m done crying, I notice something new about the birthday cake snapshot from that sticky, desperate, heart-grinding season. At the time, I hesitated to share it with my siblings, my daughter, my dad. Mom looked so sick, so frail, so vulnerable. We all knew she was sick, but I wasn’t eager to be the one to present the proof.
Four years later, I see . . . beauty. My mother was warm when this photo was taken. Life played in her eyes then. 

And I begin to understand this grieving business a little better.
It’s a chronic inflammatory condition, grieving is–not so different from arthritis. 
You wake up each day a little stiff, and you put the pain out of your mind and go on living, because really what else could you do? But every now and then, it flares up and immobilizes you. It demands that you recognize it, honor it, grind up another little bit of heart-flesh. 

And then it rests. And you go on. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4 (NASB)

I’m linking up with Jennifer Lee at Getting Down with Jesus for God-Bumps and God-Incidences. You’ll come, won’t you?

And with Mary Beth at New Life Steward for Work in Progress Wednesday. Thank you for the invitation, Mary Beth! 

And with Duane Scott at Scribing the Journey for Unwrapping His Promises.

There. Enjoy!