I took a damp towel and wiped the stains of six years of tears on the wood floor in my closet and my gut lurched as the sweet stains of pain and perseverance disappeared. My children's shower had a leak, and butts up against my closet, so the plumber had to cut a hole in my closet to make the repair. The result was sheetrock debris all over my closet floor that previously had never had the need for a wet cleaning.
I am sitting here now, on this small space of floor that feels sacred. Here, is where I moved with three small children and quite literally through blood, sweat, and tears, tried to build a home for them; a reprieve from the tyranny that had shaken us for the previous several years. We had been through deaths, adoption, three moves, deployment, months long hospital stays, infidelity, abandonment and divorce, all in a few short years. And as the shockwaves settled, the reality of our feeling truly alone settled into the bones; our new reality, our new normal.
It is here, this sacred ground of mine, where I would hide when the weight of parenting alone, these three precious souls, would come crushing down on me, and I had nothing left but to cry out to my Heavenly Father. I would weep, and if I believed them to be asleep, I would sometimes pray and weep for hours, until I had been spent and would repeat this refrain, "let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you." Sometimes peace did not come right away, but I don't believe it should be easy to heal from something we love deeply when it is lost.
I had adored my husband with a love that I had not known was possible, the grief took a long time to process. It was with him that we had vowed to leave a legacy of goodness, strength, hope, love, and restoration to our children. And then he was gone, and it was just me, and three sweet very small children. I determined immediately that the pursuit of leaving this legacy would not cease simply because he removed himself from the equation. My determination to lead well, was doubled. The line in the sand was drawn, this was my family and to hell with the devil. He could go exactly where my God intends to send him. This was war. A war for the souls, for the sanctity of my family, and while the devil had succeeded in removing the commanding general, the second in command possessed the ferocity of a momma bear.
But this fierce warrior is only fierce, because she is so inconceivably tender and self aware. She is fierce because her love is great, and she recognized with painful perception how precious, tender, and rare true goodness is. If nobody else would stand and fight, she must, because goodness is worth fighting for; always.
I would mop this floor with the sleeve of my tear soaked sweater more times than I could guess. I would grieve over what was lost. I would pour out my fears of not accomplishing the goal, of failing these very children whom I was entrusted as steward of their care and upbringing.
I have been fighting this fight without a present partner, for nearly a decade now. That span of time seems hard to comprehend when it feels as though it encompassed a lifetime of lessons and trials, and yet feels it only just descended upon us. And before I wiped away the last dried puddles of tears, made visible by the sheetrock dust, I paused. Perhaps I should preserve them. I still escape on occasion to water these floors, less frequently, and not for grief of what was lost, but of longing for what is to come, and the overall terrifying reality of parenting children which no parent escapes.
I chose to wipe away the stains, that to me were beautiful, evidence of a heart unafraid to feel. I wiped them away, yes, because while I am not Susie Homemaker, I do try and maintain a certain standard of moderate cleanliness. I also wiped them away, because I know that I will water these floors again, and other floors with my tears, because God has taken this broken heart and given it the capacity to feel greatly, to carry the burdens of others with the strength of Atlas's shoulders. Even though I have wiped away the tears of these past years, my Heavenly Father still holds them in his alabaster jar, cherishing the heart from which they came. Cherish. He cherishes me like no other, and in him I am truly known and truly loved; a love that perhaps I would not have known so deeply, had these times of suffering not been entrusted to me.
The greatest lesson I have learned from loss and suffering, is that when it finds a meaning, it ceases to be suffering; and it is in this reality that I can look to tomorrow with an inexplicable certainty that while weeping may last for a night, joy will come in the morning.