Thursday, June 12, 2014

Of Loss and New Life

Spring time has come to Quebec...and to Massachusetts.  A world that seemed dead just a few months ago, brown and limp, crushed from the winter's onslaught of ice and snow, is now green with life.  I spent an hour in the bush behind Brian's house yesterday, walking winding paths through the vibrant new growth, paths that took me all the way around Depot pond.  There were streams with rocks for steps across and fallen trees that, in my imagination, were obstacles to be valiantly overcome, even if it only took a step to accomplish the task.  So much newness, so many different shades of green, so much depth and life.

Life surprises me sometimes, how painful and lovely it can be, seemingly simultaneously.  A friend of mine passed away recently. His name was Mark Tasse. He was a close friend, and in the past week as I have been remembering him, I see that he has been a part of some of the most significant times in my life.  One of my favorite memories of him happened several years ago when I was in the hospital after having had a heart attack.  I had been discharged, but didn't have a ride home. I was sitting on my hospital bed, feeling a little panicked, when Mark walking in with a grin and a muffin.  Not only did he take me home, he took me out to lunch first (for some "real" non-hospital food.) Once I got home, he stayed until he knew that I was okay. That is who he was, to everyone. All of the time.  He loved to give gifts, the kind of things that speak of someone who really pays attention and knows what will bless the recipient the most. One of my most precious possessions is a volume of the complete works of Oswald Chambers, my favorite devotional author and teacher. It was a gift from Mark, and I was beyond delighted when he gave it to me. What a treasure!

For a few years, Mark came to our place every Tuesday night for supper. It started when the television show, Lost was on, and we'd watch it together.  After Lost finished, we switched to movies.  Mark ate a lot of his meals at restaurants and on the go, so a home cooked meal was a gift for him, and I took this seriously.  Every Tuesday late afternoon I'd receive a call from him, usually from a local grocery store.  He'd want to know what the plan was, and could he bring anything? He'd say, "Listen, salmon is on sale, do you want me to get some?"  Salmon was a favorite.  I'd tell him what I had, and we'd decide what he needed to get. Then he would arrive with a grocery bag full of goodies.  I would cook it all, whatever he wanted.  It was the highlight of my week.  I also loved the way he talked to Grace, not in that mildly amused, patronizing way that middle aged men often talk to teen age girls. He spoke to her like he spoke to everyone else and he really listened to her. He treated her with respect, like the intelligent person that she was, not a brainless boy crazy stereotype.  She loved him for it, as did I.

For the past few years, Mark's visits have been less frequent. He'd show up at the door with his lunch in hand, just bought at the grocery store.  I'd make coffee and we'd use the short time he had to spend with us to catch up.  A couple times he showed up after snow storms, sporting a shovel and his customary grin. He was always, always, always welcome.

I don't know.  It is hard to imagine him not here.  I feel a little like I did when my mum died, that Mark's death leaves a huge, gaping hole in the fabric of my life.  I feel like I have spent the last week staring at the hole in confusion, trying to look beyond it to see where he is. I am glad that there is a "beyond," that Mark is gone from this world, but not gone forever. I am grateful that he is with God, and somewhere in the pain is a tickle of excitement for him.  He's gone home, he's with Jesus! 

But.  Yes, the but is about me, not him. But it's real. But, I miss him.  I cannot yet see the world without him. I understand this, I still struggle to see my world without my mum.  It takes time.  Still, there are memories. Oh, blessed memories! 

Mark used to talk fondly of his times hiking in the woods.  He felt quiet and peaceful there. At home. Close to God.  He'd love the woods here, although I imagine that he would want to veer off the beaten track, where I dare not. 

So I will stay on the paths.  And think about Mark. And remember. And cry, and laugh. I am grateful that there is Light in this sadness. Mark has walked down a path that I haven't gotten to yet. He is alive in a way that we can't even imagine. He has turned a corner, and those of us who are left behind can't see where he has gone.  We can see the path, though.  We can keep walking, keep believing, keep loving and growing and learning. 

We can be grateful, to have known him, and to have been called friend.  Every tear is a sweet reminder, not only of what we have lost, but what we have had.

 There is much to be grateful for.


Catherine Hampson said...

I love you kell !

Kelly said...

I love you too! {{{Hugs}}}

Anonymous said...

Your words were found at the perfect time.

Kelly said...

I am so glad! I am praying that God will draw close to you and bring you strength and a deep sense of His love for you.

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