I met with a dear friend yesterday who recently lost his wife to the effects of cancer. His sorrow and despair were so deep that they could be described as palpable – so intense as to be felt or touched. After three months, he is going through the worst phase of grieving where the realization of your loss is apparent in every aspect of life. He misses their companionship, he misses their connection, and he misses her presence. Nothing can be said or done to console him in his grief. He is a man of faith, a man whose heart is as big as anyone I have ever met, but a man whose heart is so badly damaged by his loss that he cannot see a path to recovery. His faith in God is not gone, but he has unanswered questions about why this happened whose answers not be apparent to him for years – or ever in this lifetime. He never lost faith that God would deliver his wife from her disease – not even on the day of her death. As a result, he was not prepared for her to leave him.
Last night, I awoke several times and each time I was thinking of my meeting with my friend. The song Whispering Pines by The Band kept running through my head. It is a song whose lyrics, though powerful, are less impacting than the songs ambiance. Its haunting melody and soulful vocals combine with the profound lyrics to create a mood that brings the understanding of loss and despair to a level that can be felt as well as perceived. It also holds out a measure of hope that can be understood by the strength of Richard Manual’s vocals. I listened to the song this morning and once again felt the power that music can bring to a situation – even one as desperate as this one.
One lyric seemed to especially relate to my friends loss:
Foghorn through the night, calling out to sea
Protect my only light, ’cause she once belonged to me
Let the waves rush in, let the seagulls cry
For if I live again, these hopes will never die
I can feel you standing there
But I don’t see you anywhere
I hearkened back to my conversation with my friend where he repeatedly talked about the fact that although he knew he would see her again in heaven, the thought he could no longer see her in this life was overwhelming.
We all struggle with questions as to why tragic events occur in the life of the faithful believer while others whose faith is not apparent to us experience miraculous recoveries from devastating circumstances. There are so many honest, faith based answers to this question, but to the one experiencing the loss, they may seem empty for a time. I have no doubt that over time, my friend will be consoled by our Lord, and will be able to recapture the joy he once felt in the knowledge of His grace, but for now his grief prevents him from feeling this joy. Having experienced heart numbing loss in my lifetime, I know that God is faithful to help us through these circumstances when we are able to open our hearts to His love. I know my friend will once again feel the joy of God’s love, but in the interim, he suffers in solitude.