The clouds, heavy with sorrow, bent over the sky, deep and gray and so full of tears they could not cry. It seemed the weight of their anguish would crush the earth, but the weeping would not come.
It had been such a beautiful thing. That was the irony: only a beautiful thing could leave such an ugly wound. Only a beautiful thing could hurt like this.
“It will get better,” they said, as if they knew. They who did not even believe such beautiful things exist.
But she did not want it to get better. She wanted the sorrow to roll over her and consume her. She wanted to feel it breaking her. It was all she had left, this side of love that felt like drowning, like flesh being torn from flesh. She couldn’t let it go, even though it hurt to hang on, because it was the closest she could get to what she once had.
“Someday, this is going to hurt,” her brain had once tried to tell her what her heart would not hear. “There is no easy way out of love.”
But by the time she realized it might be that kind of love, it was too late. Looking back, she was astonished by how quickly it had happened, and how irrevocably she was changed, so that now, in the darkness of her sorrow, she was unable to remember how to see, how to feel, how to be like before. It seemed she could only see in shadows.
Frenzied, her mind tried to find a way to put everything back the way it was. It woke her, desperate to convince her that nothing had changed. It told her they were wrong, that it hadn’t happened, that soon she would find out that it was all a big mistake, and she could run again to her love and hold on for all eternity.
But this was not the kind of thing that could be undone with wishful thinking or sheer power of will. This was the kind of thing that could never be put right, not while one piece of her was in time, and the other in eternity.
The morning came, hushed and dimly lit, with little to distinguish it from the fading of the night. Morning, noon, and evening were nothing but a collection of indistinct hours marked by indistinct rising and falling of darkness. Always there would be darkness, darkness in the air and in the sky, darkness in the shadows that seemed to be a part of her now.
But this kind of love cannot be darkened by shadows. This kind of love, this beautiful love, cannot be divided by death.
The tears came, and with them, the clouds began to lighten. Almost imperceptibly, the light filtered through, pushing the shadows to the edges of the pools where her memories drifted. The shadows sharpened as the light grew stronger, defining and outlining the very things she couldn’t make out before.
Suddenly, she realized she could see. With breathless clarity she saw the radiance of that beautiful love, not taken from her, but given back to her in its fullness, cleared of all imperfections. Indeed, it was more real than ever before.
She ran to it and clung to it, this kind of love, this rare, beautiful love, that had come through the darkness and emerged incorruptible.
*Dedicated to my grandma, who lost her beautiful love one year ago today. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…”
For more of this kind of love, read the remarkable story of one woman’s grief redeemed in John 20.
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