Surprised By Grief

It came with no warning.  There I was enjoying the day with friends.  I was sitting in the front seat of the car, passenger side, laughing and talking, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the rugged seascape of Wales.  Seagulls were floating, wings outstretched on the thermals of the blustery day.  The white capped swells of the ocean rushed to meet the shore, crashing in splendor, each wave gliding, leaving white foam etching patterns on the sand.  Kite surfers happily battled the elements, dog walkers tossed frisbees and balls to their tail wagging, canine friends, and children undeterred by the weather, licked ice-cream cones.  It was a perfect day.

I could feel the smile stretched on my lips as I gazed across this wonderful scene just below the craggy cliff tops.  The radio was on and we were singing along with the old songs of yesteryear.  I felt young again with the songs playing from my youth.  We sang loudly.  I knew every word from one song after another.  Then it happened.  A song began, and with just one line sung, a pain, deep and unexpected, struck the chords of my memory.

In only a moment I was transported to a time past, sitting next to my father.  Tears shot to my eyes, filling them, threatening to spill over my eyelids.  I turned my head to gaze out the window, hoping my companions would not see.  This was a very private moment and I wanted to share it with no one.  What had happened, I asked myself?  What a total surprise; an unwanted surprise!  But wait; no, it was not unwanted.  It was painful, but there was beauty in it, too.

As my thoughts raced to bring some explanation, I came to an understanding:  While the pain reminded me of what I had lost, the memory itself reminded me of the joy of what I once had with my father, and of what I would have again.  After all, the promise of life after death, a continuance of living with our loved ones in Christ, is the secure and comforting hope of every child of God.

The song on the radio continued, but with each verse, watching my father in my mind’s eye, the tears disappeared, and a smile, once again, came to me.  I was thankful to have experienced this beautiful pain.  It reminded me of the joy of love; love that knows no end.  Yes, it really was a perfect day.

“You keep track of all my sorrow.  You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8