I was birthed into a family of six children. It was a ‘his children’, ‘her children’ and ‘our children’ family. My father’s first wife died and so did my mother’s first husband. It was precious stories of love that met with the sorrow of unexpected death. There was a significant age difference between myself and my elder siblings. I was always fascinated by their childhood stories, being so much younger, I was not part of these.
You and I always loved stories, my Beloved. Books were part of the joys of life. Bedtime stories were read to the children until they were eight and nine years, respectively. A weekly outing to the library was part of our family routine. When the children did not want to take their vitamins, you told them a story of the immunity soldiers in their blood. The vitamins were the ammunition in the soldier’s weapons. When a germ or an illness showed up, the immunity soldiers could shoot them with their vitamin bullets. Without the vitamins they had no resources to fight. You made animated sounds of machine gun fire. The children were glued to your lips. They could never get enough of your vitamin story. One day I was searching for something in the sitting room and pulled away the cushions of the couch. Hidden underneath were many old, discoloured vitamins, which the children never chew. Although the story was fascinating, it did not provide enough motivation to alter their behaviour.
You were mesmerised by the stories of narrative practice told by Michael White, the master in the field, whose training you attended. Understanding your own problem-saturated story did not empower you to change the plot of how your story ended. Stripped of your rigorous gym routine in lockdown, you lost part of your ‘immunity’ resources to fight depression. In your death, our story together has come to a tragic end.
I have vivid childhood memories of my Dad bodysurfing the waves during our December sea holidays. When he was tired, he would join me in the calmer part of the sea and float on his back between the up and down of the smaller waves. It looked so wonderfully peaceful and relaxed. I tried to imitate him, but my feet would become heavy and float downwards to the sand. How do you do that, Daddy? You have to relax completely and allow the water to carry and support you, he replied. It took me years to learn to float without swallowing salty seawater or ending up with sinking feet.
I have deleted Tetris from my phone again. I finally got the message that I had no more valid moves to change the reality of your death. I don’t like wasting time and I do not like the empty feeling I’m left with after a Tetris game. I am asking myself what my next move will be and where it will count the most. What choices will I make and where should I reposition myself in my next season? When anxious thoughts about my next move grip me, I lose my ability to float and find myself with sinking feet and a heavy heart. How will my story develop without your character as part of the plot? I do not want to erase our history of 38 years together from dating to death. Our story will always be a part of my next chapter. God is the author of our story and He stays the author of my story.
After we deposited your ashes in the sea, I followed our children to where we parked the cars. The river did not flow into the sea that day. It looked like a desert I needed to cross to get to the car. I visualised my Daddy floating in the sea. How fitting that we brought your remains to this space where two generations made happy sea holiday memories.
Exodus 33:14 And He said: “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Hebrews 4:11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” My friend Felicity opened her dictionary and found the following explanations for ‘rest’: If you rest, you do not do anything active for a period of time. If something rests somewhere or if you rest there, your weight is supported by something. Father God, I bring the plot and the unfolding of my future story to you. I choose to enter into Your rest about every choice and every move I need to make. In my ocean current of grief, I am supported and protected by Your grace.