I went to the park that Jana and I had walked at years ago. Before teenagers, before ministry, before toddlers, before marriage and honeymoon…we just walked and talked about the potential future God may have for us. Such an exciting time in our lives. Learning somebody new, sharing our thoughts and passions. We enjoyed being together, a feeling that never ended from those days forward.
In determining to go the park, I knew it would be difficult. I knew I would cry and long for her to be with me again. In a strange way, I felt like I was just going to meet her there. Of course, that is not the case. But, to be where we were, walking the path we walked…almost remembering the conversations and feeling the sweat of our hands together on those summer days 22 years ago, she somehow felt close.
God walks there, too. Back then He guided us along, speaking to our hearts, drawing us together. He was with me today…comforting, speaking, drawing me close to Himself. He is the loving constant in this relationship of ours. He is the one that both of us continue to praise and enjoy, although from different vantage points.
As I write, I am sitting in the bedroom Jana had while growing up. We have stayed here, in this room, many times over the years while visiting her mother. I remember staying in this room when I would come to visit, while we were dating, and Jana would go share a bed with her mom. We came here, right after our wedding, and hurriedly changed clothes to head to St. Louis to begin our honeymoon. We cried in this room after our first baby was miscarried here the Christmas before Sarah was born. We changed the kids when they were little, and laid them down for naps in this room. We shared this bed on many trips visiting the family here in Illinois. I feel so close to her, yet this room is so empty…except for years of memories.
“The more you loved or valued that person, the greater the pain. If you didn’t love and care, there would be no pain. John Bowlby, a psychiatrist noted as a leading researcher in the field of personality development, verified that the amount of pain and grief are based directly on the level of attachment you had to the one who died.”*
I feel like searching, searching the world over, if need be, to find her. It’s an illogical quest, but it doesn’t seem possible that she is gone. If she were to be anywhere, other than our home, it would be here, in Illinois. But, she is not here either. She is not waiting for me at our original lovely places. Walking the path, I expectantly glance toward each park bench, hoping to find her waiting for me. She is not sitting there. She is not there where we fell in love, or where we got married, or where we confessed our secrets and prayed to God together for the first time. I am beginning to think it’s true…she is not coming back.
*Excerpt From Getting to the Other Side of Grief by Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge