Have you ever experienced grief? I think we all have, in one shape or form, so I love how, through the universal experience of grief, today’s writer sees that the little things ARE the big things. So friends of the Internet, meet friend of mine and friend of many, Lily. Delight and rest and be filled by her words today!
“At Forza for the next few hours…shutting my phone off, but if you’re home, swing by,” the text says, though I am sitting at a different, favorite coffee shop in Fremont.
I am trying my best to be disciplined and get some work done on a sermon I am giving in a month. My roommate and I both needed to get some work done and decided to coffee-shop-work together that afternoon. It was a typical day in Seattle, a little gray, the chance of rain always 100%, even though it doesn’t rain everyday here, much to the chagrin of worldwide stereotypes about the great Northwest.
I text back as fast as I can so she gets my response before she turns her phone off, “I’ll stop by on my way home!” My roommate drove us to Milstead, dropping me off a mile short of our house at Forza where I pull up a chair alongside two friends I’ve known for a total of five minutes each. Not literally, but in the grand scheme of things time spent has been minimal, and depth has already been reached.
You should know this part of the story: I moved to Seattle four months ago, and as I was preparing to move I was collecting names of people I should be in touch with once I got settled. Some people included networking for my job, while others were names of people I should befriend.
And four or five times by different people I was told that there was one woman I should really get to know because I’d really like her and she’d really like me. So in modern technology fashion I Facebook messaged her and said, “So I hear we’re going to be great friends. I can’t wait.” I love how great friendships often are born out of knowing incredible people and the overflow of those relationships happens by adding to the fold new remarkable people.
So there I was. Getting comfortable at a coffee shop in Seattle is like walking into a living room you’ve spent countless hours in. You’re welcome to be there, the people are good and so is the coffee. I settle in next to my new friends and we catch up; we Instagram a photo, we spend some time laughing. She was finishing a great book while I pulled out a different book I was re-reading.
And here’s the thing: one of the things my friend and I share that brought us close together quickly was a shared sense of loss. I’ve had two friends die in a short amount of time and her sister had recently passed away. What’s often so challenging in grieving is it’s very hard to wrap words around everything one feels both emotionally and physically. For me, the sadness begins in my bones and seems to rest in the deepest parts of me. There are many moments where the words I try to form don’t come out except in deep heaves and sobs. The one thing that’s been most helpful for me as I’ve grieved for years now is the silent presence of a dear one next to me.
As my friend is finishing a book that is reminiscent of her sister’s life and death, the sadness wells up from deep within. The tears of remembrance and loss, joy and sorrow come cascading down as we sit and stare. The clouds have rolled in; they are dark and are emptying themselves of their weight. It’s a powerful rain, washing over everything. I’ve tried so many times to imitate the rain with my tears, to empty the weight of my soul, and yet it replenishes itself endlessly. I put my hand on her knee and I pray. Words form in my brain that I’ve never prayed for myself, much less for another experiencing this bone crushing sorrow. I stare at the rain; my soul and heart ache with hers. A few words are shared and we realize time has gotten away from us. They need to drive and fight traffic, and I ask for a ride home in this torrential downpour. Hugs are exchanged as well as words of kindness.
And I walk through my front door, I type into a text, “I love you,” knowing her phone was still off. That’s all that could be said. That’s all that needed to be said. More was said in the silence of those two hours than out loud. Because silence speaks from our deepest parts, our aching parts and brings forth comfort and new life.
Lily is a friend, a hearty laugher, a wearer of fabulous earrings, and a 7 on the Enneagram. She spends her days – well, and many nights, too – working for the non-profit outreach organization, Young Life, and hosts the World’s Best Brunch with her roommates every Sunday morning. Leave an encouraging note for Lily today! How did her words touch you?