You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley


You gotta walk it by yourself,
Ain't nobody else gonna walk it for you.

(For Thou art with me.)

The last few months prickled with visitors.  They arrived in such quick succession that several batches tripped over the heels of the previous.  I do love good company, but, for once, the spare sweep of February seems just right.   Tasks undone still lie like so many cars in a pile-up, and I'm just now finding grit enough to tackle them.  These good children-- their laughter, their bickering, their questions-- fill my days.  And grief still finds ways to rush in unannounced and break me wide open.

When Dad grew noticeably sicker but before we knew his body fought more than a simple infection, I was several chapters into Sounder, reading a handful of pages each night while burrowed under the covers.  I had put it on Mildred's IHIP booklist in August but had never read it myself.  I set it-- and all else-- aside when leukemia announced itself.

A couple of weeks after God took Dad home, I picked it up again, and, that first night, tears stung when I read the words a mother speaks to her son:

But you must learn to lose, child.  The Lord teaches the old to lose.
The young don't know how to learn it.
I'm learning to lose.  The loss of Dad yawns large.  It's the largest loss I've faced as an adult, and the hardest lesson I'm learning.  I've lost loved ones before-- friends and relatives; my grandpa, grandma, and Aunt Shirley (who because of her Downs Syndrome was more like a cousin) died in a car accident when I was a young teenager. My Grandpa Johnson died when I was in college.   I've lost precious things before I even knew they should be mine to have. None of these prepared me for the loss of my father.  The dike is crumbling, and from here to there, all the other large losses wait. Each loss is its own lesson, and each feels like the first.
The boy was crying now.  Not that there was any new or sudden sorrow.  There just seemed to be nothing else to fill up the vast lostness of the moment. 
Still, the great Hope sustains (for we are not like those who have no hope).  Tonight I walked in the sharp February dark and thought of Dad starwatching on the hood of the car in summers gone. Orion loomed huge, stars piercing brilliant everywhere, and I felt infinitesimally small and utterly secure. The heavens proclaim the glory of God. I have nothing but joy for my dad, who is whole for the first time in his life.  I look forward to the day when we who love him have joined him. Yet still remain times of vast, lonely lostness, when death seems like nothing less than the bitter thing it is. The season of Lent approaches.  Our need gapes, but the Conqueror--our Deliverer-- stands nigh, with Life in His heel.


Deborah Johnson said...

I'm glad you posted today. Sleep evades me tonight, and even though this post made the sleeplessness intensify, it also left me feeling less alone.

Molly said...

Everyone in your family - near and far - remain in our daily prayers for peace and comfort.

Much love.

Full of Grace said...

I think of you often and pray for you..Losing someone you love who is near and dear to your heart is never easy..Thankful for all the love in your home to distract you and keep your heart full!! :)

Rebecca said...

I am glad to see you blogging again Abby!

Writing can be therapeutic. Giving words to the thoughts that twist within is a wonderful way to find joy and comfort and solace for those people who are gifted with words, as you most certainly are.

I have been hoping that you have been allowing yourself the opportunity to free those thoughts~ even if only within the pages of a secret journal somewhere. Because it can help so much in the writing. But also in the remembering. In the formulating. In the release.

Abigail said...

Thank you.

Michelle said...

I don't post comments much anymore, and don't have my blog, but wanted you to know that you're in my prayers. I think of you guys often and miss our get togethers.

Abigail said...

Thank you, Michelle. You're not the only one who misses our get-togethers! I miss your calm approach to things, too. If God ever brings your family north again, I'll be happy. :) (I guess I should just write you a letter, huh. Has your address changed since last summer?)