A year ago today, I woke up to the news that a seminary classmate/friend Justin had passed away in the middle of the night. He left behind his beloved wife and two beloved young children. Little did I know or did anyone know that this death would be only the beginning of a long season of death.
After Justin’s death, in the last 12 months, I have lost no less than ten friends/colleagues/teachers to the reality of death. In some ways, time has stood still and in other ways, time has moved fast. Yet the truth is that time has moved forward. Justin is no longer with us. His wife Jillian and children still miss him every single day.
Time has a way of getting away from us so easily in this world. But what grief has taught me is to take more time to just be; to not get wrapped up in the busyness of life. In fact, just last night on Facebook, I saw a graphic that a friend shared on their Facebook page and it really spoke to me. The graphic read: “Read more books than status updates. Look into more eyes than screens. Hold more hands than devices. Love more than you judge (Dulce Ruby).” In these last twelve months, I find myself wanting to cling to the words of this graphic more than ever. I don’t EVER want to take anything or anyone for granted because things can (and sometimes) do change in an instance.
In this world, we are often guilty of being too busy. Yet grief teaches us to really take the time to invest in what is really important. Justin and the many who left this earth after him have taught me the value of friendship in a new and profound way. They have taught me to take the time to say I love you. They have taught me to spend quality time with those I love. They have taught me that busyness is not the answer. They also have taught me that time is to be valued and invested but not spent carelessly. (How often have you been guilty of spending your time carelessly?)
The last year has also taught me the value of time. I find myself learning to say more no to the things I really don’t want to do. And yes to those things that a year ago scared the living daylights out of me. I find myself grabbing for a friends hand, looking into their eyes instead of at my phone and saying I love you more.
If grief has taught me anything, grief has taught me the value of 52 weeks; 365 days; one year more than at any other time in my life. And grief continues to teach me that time is also a part of the grieving process. It takes time to grieve those we loved and cared for. It takes time to move past the anger, the denial, the depression, the bargaining, and the acceptance. And to be honest, time has taught me also that these stages don’t happen in a linear fashion at all.
Grief has its own timeline. But the thing about grief is it happens because we loved and were loved. I cannot help but think of the song “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent. “Remember the love, remember the love. Measure your life in love.” Because time teaches us that love ultimately wins especially love grounded in God’s love for the world.