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The Soapbox: Whitewashed Cottage

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Brandi Chambless

In a whitewashed cottage by the sea
for maybe one or two or three
I won’t see you…it’ll just be me.

 I know you couldn’t meet me there.
I’ll sift through the sand, taste the salty air.
You won’t be there.

 It’ll be okay, I half-heartedly say.
I feel so far away.
Perhaps another day.

 You’ll come back this way again.
I missed seeing your brothers, the men
That carried you to your grave, half-past ten.

Thus is the journey of grief. Someone you still love is no longer here.

It isn’t fair. You can wait on fair, but, life.

Life…isn’t fair sometimes.

Is it really better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? This is one of a thousand questions to which grief will give a voice—a voice that will recant the same gyrations over and again to everyone including total strangers. The discovery that someone has completed his own pilgrimage through the valley of tears gives you the right to ask any question.

You never wanted to be called strong.

Survivor wasn’t a name given at birth. It was one you would have to earn. Unwillingly. It was an accomplishment you never sought after, a badge of honor you never wanted, and a trophy of a war for which you didn’t enlist.

You found that in filling the minutes of the day with what were once basic tasks, you made it through. Only to face the long night again. This is the place where the anguish magnified itself to you.

You thought you had arrived at a place of acceptance, but the tears in the dark seemed to say, “I’m not done with you yet.”

You weren’t prepared to let go. Why would you be? It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

You ran after deliverance by seeking God’s face, but in the meantime, you filled journals with thoughts of everything.

You returned to familiar places you knew in childhood, like right field where you tucked your left hand inside the 5th grade baseball glove your father had broken in with mink oil. People remembered you by your maiden name. You visited the places where we met, the last place we spoke. You laughed like a girl, but bore the grief of a woman.

In my time of greatest grief, the road was my friend. I went everywhere, but grief met me there.

I pulled up on skis out of the green water beside the Tuscan-roofed hills.

I remembered the good times we had.

There was only One who attended my bedside both day and night.  This same One has ordained all of my days and knows me to my innermost being. The seed of faith began to grow into a hope that I would overcome this loss. I started to dream again.

I can’t see what you see, Lord, but I’m willing to try.  This was my self-talk, my prayer.  I’m ready to try to learn and live this new kind of life…the one you knew about all along. Today is a step in the right direction.

Here I am, better than I was before.

My trust has returned, though I never stopped praising you.

I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.

It has been six years since we said goodbye, but sometimes…I still need to return to the whitewashed cottage by the sea.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. —Psalms 84: 5 – 6

 

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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