I walk through the rain forest with the trees an impenetrable canopy of chromatic green above and around me. I look longingly for those strong, smooth calves walking ahead of me, leading me in hiking shoes and those familiar khaki shorts and white tee shirt. But instead, I am at the head. I am the lead that I don’t want to be, that I feel unqualified for. The soft, pungent aroma of mossy earth beneath my feet, wafting up through me, cushions the pain of walking this trail. As the trees drip with dew upon the bowing ferns below, they cry their heavenly tears upon the already soaked ground, which seems as if it cannot carry another drop or it will burst. Like me. Rarely, but significantly, I look up and catch a ray of the saffron sky as the persistent sun begins to fall asleep on the horizon. I keep walking on. I hear the quiet tread of little footsteps behind me—ducks in a row, following this “trail of tears” I lead them on. I don’t know the way, and it is often so dark that the blind must see more clearly that I. Blackness, like a sepulcher, envelopes me. But I press on, because I cannot stay in this dense wood, nor can I let my little girls stay. They stick to me like super glue, and I am overwhelmed with the sinking sense that this burden is too great for me. It is, of course. I am pulling the yoke that was meant for two. Alone. And it does not have to be that way. God promised to carry the lion’s share of the burden, and I struggle to understand how that is to be. He speaks to me often. He speaks in His word, and in cards and letters, and in sermons, and in devotions. I hear Him in my head and in my soul, but I cannot yet translate His loving message into my heart.
There is a heaviness in this Olympic Peninsula where incredible beauty surrounds you, and yet every branch is weighted down, like an arm whose nerves have been severed, hanging limp and useless, side by side. I feel heavy like that. I hate the pain in my heart of missing you so dearly, but it is becoming my closest companion. I pass through smaller archways of green velvet, only to emerge into an overcast but canopy-free sky, effervescent in the moonbeams. My heart lifts for a few moments, but soon thereafter, plummets again. I thought of how I could describe it, though I suppose you understand already. It is rather like jumping off a ledge with a bungee cord attached. The pounding adrenaline carries you down, but the moment before the tension of the cord is sprung back contracting, your heart falls out onto the ground only inches below your dangling feet.
Today, losing you is not the pain of the climax in a spine-tingling novel. Now it is only the dull roar of living beneath the railroad tracks in the “seedy” side of a town from a 1940’s detective flick. Remember that scene from one of our favorite movies, Sleepless in Seattle, where Sam sits on the sofa late at night watching glittering fireworks light the dark sky? He imagines his Maggie sitting there and telling her, “Awe babe, I miss you so much it hurts.” I sit now, unable to sleep, wrapped in a cozy blanket out on the porch, staring as if mesmerized at the moonlit night alight with glittering stars, and wonder where Heaven is. Sometimes I think there is a very sheer, gossamer veil just beyond our reach. I reach out anyway, though, trying to find the gate to that secret garden, that Eden. But there is only the breath of the air of my world. I miss you, Scott. The canopy of the forest we traverse is so dark and imposing. It hangs over me, constantly dripping drops of sizzling hot water onto my weak and sad heart. The flora and fauna around me cries out its history and message that you knew so well but are no longer here to interpret for me. The pain. It will never go away, will it? I know that now. But I think maybe I cry a little less, at least some days. I feel that familiar clutch in my breast and the sudden loss of air, but mostly I can control the outbursts of mourning. Not today, though. Today I find myself so very tired that even lifting my hands to get a cup is a struggle. I want to find somewhere to hide, or somewhere to be, or someone to be with that can make this pain go away. Instead, I wander from room to room, door to door, life to life, without relief. Everything reminds me of you. When I saw the white capped Rainier and Baker mountains again, I wanted to tell you all about it. I wanted to call you, to text, to yell to you into the endless sky, but I don’t know if you hear. I want to touch you, but I know that I can only touch you in spirit now. Show me how to do that, because I cannot bear to look very far ahead of me without you. I hear God’s message: Only enough light for one step at a time.
Today, I am like a rainy day. People look out at me with dreary expressions of patience worn to threads. They don’t like to see rain coming; it’s cold and gray and sad. It interferes with things they would rather be doing. I don’t blame them, although I wish they understood. The gently falling droplets that land upon the tongue of the fading leaflet and trickle down the stem to the parched roots are its salvation. In those cold, relentless drops, new life emerges. In the spring, I see the arched backs of seedlings struggling to pull up out of the earth and reach, rejoicing with arms outstretched to God, toward the sun. There is nothing showing in my hoed rows as yet, but perhaps they are not fully cultivated. I know, though, that someday the rain will abate, at least for awhile. Like living in the Pacific Northwest, I will rejoice in the cleared sky and the warm arms of the sun when it comes. But I know, more than most, that it will soon be covered in steely gray. And the life-giving but heart aching rains of this life will forever on earth, hang over me.