I slipped on my shoes and went running towards the gate. My first attempt was 4 gates too early so I kept going, sweaty, with the lump in my throat growing.
The yellow “boarding” sign was flashing on the screen. With desperation in my eyes I asked if there was any way I could get on the earlier flight. I was politely turned down for any flights before my scheduled one, an hour away.
I turned around, disoriented and distracted, and started looking for some anchoring point. The lump in my throat was growing larger with each passing second threatening to choke the life out of me.
I remembered seeing a sign for a chapel so I wandered that way. I was a mess, tear-filled eyes, splotchy cheeks, and shuffling feet. Eventually I found the elevator to the chapel. I walked in and found it blissfully empty.
I collapsed into a chair and my sobs became audible. Tears streaming down my face, my shoulders heaved and I could feel my body shaking.
I hadn’t been expecting it but I wasn’t entirely surprised.
The ending was kind, full of hard things and confusing words and missteps and right steps and quiet words and tears. It wasn’t dramatic though it was filled with emotion.
There are no good reasons and things to pin it down on. Only a feeling that this was the end. I warred with myself — fighting to hear Papa and exit gracefully. At one point I heard the Holy Spirit whisper okay, say okay and then trust me. Lean into me.
Soon after I said those words and found myself fighting to open the car door. It never gets any easier to see someone for the last time and know it is the last time. It never gets any easier to desperately want to be anywhere but there and yet not want to be anywhere else. It never gets easier to utter final sentiments and sayings and choose your very last words. Knowing what will echo in his mind and yours.
I stopped to call my mom outside the house before I went in. I cried into the phone and heard her sadness for me too. We spoke briefly and then I walked into the home of the woman who has known me longer than almost anyone. She called my name in greeting and I struggled to say hello.
When she peeked at my face it told her everything she needed to know. She walked down the stairs and wrapped her arms around me. Holding me as sobs wracked my body. Her husband followed suit and pulled me into a deep hug as I shook. Eventually we managed to sit down on the couch and I tried to piece together what had just happened.
Silence and questions and answers and more silence.
I wept more and more, a deep well of sorrow I forgot existed.
With swollen eyes and an invitation to call to them for anything I needed that night, I took some sleeping medicine and cried myself to sleep.
Morning didn’t bring the wave of grief I expected. There was something about my dreams and my sleep that knew I was grieving. My heart protected me from the unexpected allowing me to wake in aching pain without the initial onslaught of sorrow.
All day I cried off and on. Being given the space to talk or not talk, meanwhile the expected torrent of text messages and phone calls and any other form of communication invaded my phone. I’ve learned enough in this past year to know I can answer or not answer in whatever time I need and it’s absolutely okay.
Sunday passed in a blur, only knowing I was safe and cared for and protected. Monday brought a gentle invitation to go see the family who has known me since I was a tiny little girl. That time was full of sweetness and prayer and blessings. Hope and healing and space to be exactly where I needed to.
As we left and headed to the airport I felt the apprehension mounting. The memories of the last time I departed that building. Of being on the phone getting ready to fly to Denver, floating on a cloud and my cheeks hurting from smiling.
I thought about 3 days previous when I arrived after a hellish journey to get there but knowing I was about to see a man I cared for deeply.
So as I sat in that chapel I wept. I wept loudly and ugly and deeply. I wept from the pit of sorrow. I wept from the pit of disappointment. I wept from the pit of trust. I opened my hands and told my Papa it was all His and I am all His and I believed He is good and I am loved.
I asked Him to put the blanket of love I had felt the past 48 hours around me to not feel so alone. I felt His strong arms wrap me completely and I heard Him to tell me to look around and see how not alone I was.
Through blurry eyes a once dark room filled with faces. Familiar faces.
I looked at empty chairs and I saw you my friends. I saw you sitting in those seats, petitioning Papa. I smelled the aroma of Christ as I wept in the corner. I felt your strength giving me what I needed to stand up. I heard you crying out on my behalf, words of love and trust and hope.
I wept harder as the chorus of the saints claimed truth for me when I haven’t been able to claim it for myself.
You were there with me my friends. You have gone with me as I sit on the plane and let tears stream down my face. I feel you in front of me, to my right and left, above and below, and behind me.
My heart may be broken but it’s broken in the safety of a tribe who cover me night and day to keep the enemy at bay while Papa gets to tend to my heart.
Thank you for standing around me and with me and fighting for me.
He is good and I am loved.