Today has been a sad day.
My dear friend, David Gentiles, died three years ago today. Three years later, this day lies between the anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, Reuben, who died a year ago last October and January, which will mark the first anniversary of Lola, our Schnauzer who died after fighting to so hard to stay and take care of us. However we might measure our days, this has been a season of grief at our house. Yet, even as I write that sentence, I am aware that, though this kind of grief is new to me, it is not new. it feels different, I suppose, because I am now better informed.
One of the phrases from scripture that has intrigued me since I was a boy comes from Isaiah 53: “he was acquainted with grief.” The verb paints an unusual picture of one who knows grief well, not as a friend, yet with some familiarity. As we read the prophecies into the story of Jesus, we see the Man of Sorrows, somehow full of grace and love and joy that ran deeper than any of the darkness. I’ve got twenty years on him, as far as being on the planet, and I am just getting acquainted it seems. As I learn more about what it means to live with vacancies the shape of loved ones, the loss of the little ones and their teachers in Newtown remind me that my grief is fundamentally not about me, but about what it means to be human, to be connected, to be loved.
This life we live is about losing as much as anything else, and about what we do with those losses. As we grieve collectively as a nation, we do well to remember our brothers and sisters in Africa and Syria, in Palestine and Pakistan who see their children die everyday, not because we must somehow we must compare our sorrows but because now we know more about what it means to be human. We are better acquainted with grief.
I have no big point to make here other than tonight I miss my friend. I am grateful for his life and sad it was not longer. And my mind turns to music, such as this favorite hymn:
come ye disconsolate where’re ye languish
come to the mercy seat fervently kneel
here bring your wounded hearts here tell your anguish
earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal
One of the things Dave and I shared was an unabashed love of John Denver’s songs. I keep coming back to this one:
friend, I will remember you
think of you pray for you
and when another day is through
I’ll still be friends with you
To all who are acquainted with grief, I hope you find rest and peace.