As I type Jesse is reading a comic book while spinning in our swivel chair, Ruthie is doing a math work sheet at the dining room table, and Andrew and Mary and chasing each other through the length of the house, tagging each other, screaming, laughing hard. Earlier this evening friends filled our house–my mom, the kids’ school friends and their moms, who I love dearly. There was noise and movement and laughter and wine. Many days and parts of days feel like this.

When my aunt died five years ago, I was stunned with grief. And I felt her spirit so close. I would make decisions as if she were watching me, wanting to please her. Her things in my house served as her ghosts and caused such a deep ache for so long.

I feel so different with Chris. His things around, which are everywhere and in and through and to all things, don’t shake me. I don’t feel his spirit near. I don’t imagine him watching me. Instead, I have felt so very distant from him. His healthy self, who I made a life with for all of these years, feels like a thing long passed. It’s hard to imagine him moving through our house, standing in the kitchen, sitting at the dinner table, working in his office, lying in our bed.

One of my friends suggested that maybe as more time passes between me and those intense and life-altering months in the hospital, more of Chris’s healthy presence will come closer to mind. I think she may be right. And her suggestion also affirms to me the otherness of that time. As I was walking through those months, even before Chris was admitted to the hospital, I was always finding the ways that we were still the same–the humor Chris and I shared, especially. His personality. But on the other side of it, I’ve reflected on how drastically different everything actually was: We were in a new place, on a different side of town; Chris’s body was changing in every possible way; medical problems were part of our every day conversations; Chris was suffering, which meant that the way we related to one another was so drastically different than it had ever been. Maybe this is why healthy Chris has been so hard to recall.

I believe that Chris is now with our Lord, our Creator. As he suffered at the end of his life and died, this belief brought real peace for his sake. On Sunday, the day before he died–the day I made him comfort care–I walked into his room and knew he was leaving this world. I set down my things and went straight to his ear. I don’t remember what all I said to him, but I do remember telling him to imagine it all–imagine where he was going, imagine the beauty of it and the freedom of it, imagine the joy of it. I was almost joyful in my anticipation for him.

Now, as I try to think about where Chris is, I mostly just feel so very divided from him. It’s impossible to know what it’s like where he is. If only I could picture it. Then I might not feel so separated from him. And so left behind. Chris is both so far back and so far forward, and both places are inaccessible to me.

I know I don’t really understand that Chris is gone. I haven’t seen him for over three weeks, but I don’t grasp that that time will not have an end date. I still sit down and think, What just happened? But I have a sense that there’s so much more coming. Like there’s a huge bubble full of water above me that is always threatening to break or will just slowly engulf me. How could it not be so? At some point I’m going to start believing this reality more than disbelieving it.

I will *try* not to think about how or when the waters will rush in. I know I wouldn’t be able to imagine it rightly. For today I’ll take the cushion that was given me–in my mind, in my heart, in my house.

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  24. Rachel

    Hi Sara, Thanks for sharing your journey. I started reading when Kirsten G. mentioned that Chris had passed away. I was shocked. Your family sounds beautiful and I’m heartbroken to hear that Chris isn’t there to do life with you all anymore. I don’t know else to say, except that I’m sending a prayer from afar.

  25. Margaret Lynn Beaird

    I am shocked to see this news in a church newsletter, and very sorry for this seemingly premature journey you are on. You are in my prayers and I will continue to hold you up before our Father in Heaven.

    I’ve been comforted by these words:
    With long life I will satisfy him,
    And show him MY salvation.

    Our Lord Jesus, promises fulness of days, and I will pray that all the meaning and all the gift of your husband’s life, the father of your children’s life, will be poured into them and into your heart in these days ahead. He promises to satisfy us and SHOW US HIS salvation, and I think this is true no matter how short the days seem.

    I am sorry for this suffering, so sorry. LORD JESUS, comfort and heal all who suffer in this time in JESUS’ HOLY NAME, AMEN.

    I met you at Resurrection, I think you had been a student of my father’s at Wheaton College. I will be praying.


  26. Wendy Williams

    Dear Sarah, I am thankful for the times of joy and laughter for you and your children, for the ordinary moments of math worksheets and comic reading and running through the house. How our hearts need such moments, and God is gracious to provide them! It is a tender mercy that we do not have to face losses and griefs all at once. You are learning a new way of being and what that looks like you will come to know more as each day passes and with that will come waves of grief and understanding. Our wise Father is so tender with us and knows what and when we need and in what measure. The reordering of memories will come with healing. I pray God will give you a glimpse of Chris now—healed and whole and in awe of being with Jesus. And I continue to pray that you would feel God’s presence so near to you, that he would comfort you with his love and kindness and strengthen you to do whatever the next thing is. May his peace hem you in on every side and keep you from fear. Even in the deep waters, He is with you. You are loved.

  27. Betsy Kopecky

    Dear Precious One,
    I have to read your thoughts over and over…i need to read them over and over. As I reread your post this morning, I was reminded of the truth that the Lord ‘knows our frame’…He knows the deepest needs of heart, soul, and body….He cares for us in the most perfect of ways…..though we as people care and love each other, He alone brings light, understanding, and assurance…may each day the great IAM give your soul just what is needful for the day ❤ Betsy K

  28. Sandra Coir Bilbrey

    Thankful to hear your thoughts. Appreciate your sharing, please continue.
    Blessings to you and the children,
    Gentle hugs of prayer. San

  29. Sara Baugh

    Sarah, thank you for your update. I have thought of you and the children often, and I continue to pray for you all and the rest of your family. I can’t imagine what you are experiencing at this time, so I pray Nehemiah 8:10 over you still…”the joy of the Lord is my strength.” God bless you.

  30. Lori Carballo

    I am so, so very sorry for your loss and the accompanying grief and responsibility. Antonio and I continue to pray for you and your family. I agree, a big bubble will at some point pop, and I pray you will receive more understanding, grace and optimism for the future. I thank God you and your sister and her family are so close. God bless you and your children.

  31. Laurie Rogers Powers

    Sarah, I have often thought of you in these days since Chris’ passing and wondered “how would I be feeling/handling life as everyone moves forward in their lives.” Would I feel it isn’t fair? Would I curl up in a ball and stop living? Would I be utterly raw before the Lord and let every single emotion be displayed before Him? I don’t know. None of us knows until we are faced with the sufferings of life. I appreciate your raw and well spoken thoughts being shared with us. I continue to pray for a filling up of your spirit with THEE Spirit.

  32. Emily Ganzer

    Thank you for your words, Sarah. I’ve been wondering how you’re doing. This makes so much sense. Praying for you and your family every day.

  33. Cindy Kross

    Sarah, there is not a day that goes by that the Lord gives me pause to pray for you and your precious family! Please know there are many of us standing in the gap! You have become more than precious to us! Keep writing Sarah! Your words are beautiful, kingdom changing balm!

  34. Betsy Rogers

    In my experience what you are feeling now is God’s protection for you during this time. I remember how this feels. It is just another reminder to you that God is with you. He will not leave you.
    Praying continually throughout the day for you and your sweet children.


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