Like thousands of other people last night, my family watched the Vikings football game against the Saints. The sounds that rang out from our living room were decibels above the safe level of hearing, I’m sure. Diggs’ run into the end zone after catching himself from momentarily losing his footing will be talked about for weeks on social media. The last few seconds of the game will be remembered for years to come. The Vikes’ victory was a solid reminder to many to never quit, never give up. My husband called it “The Minnesota Miracle.”
I watched replay after replay of those exciting last moments of the Vikings game and smiled with joy in seeing the gladness on the faces of the people gathered in our home. I viewed the landscape of our living room packed with family and friends and cherished the sight. But my heart weighed heavy. It ached. It ached because my son wasn’t there.
Just like that, grief dropped a “miss”ile, one of those “no rhyme or reason” missing moments where the pain of child loss explodes like a land mine.
After almost six and a half years, it still sucks. I’m not sure why, but the ache of missing Matt has flared up the past couple weeks. I suspect it’s simply the grief of entering yet another new year without my son. Moments, too, like last night, are bittersweet reminders of how our life used to be. Matt’s dad is a Vikings fan and, well, Matt was not. Game days at our house were (and are) exciting. The spirit of competition runs high here. Matt was a Packer’s fan. Yep. A Viking’s fan and Packer’s fan living in the same household made for great Sunday memories (and still do, as one of his sisters and I carry on Matt’s devotion to the Pack). I can’t help but wonder how my “Mr. Stoic” would have reacted to yesterday’s game and which team he would have been rooting for.
I went to bed early last night, knowing that what I needed was a good private cry. I miss my son. I cannot bury my grief, just as I cannot bury my love. I will cherish the memories and count my blessings, but I will not deny the pain, because I know that God invites us to call out to Him in all our moments, the joyful ones as well as the painful ones.
As I laid in bed weeping last night, I turned to the two tangible things that have helped me most in this grief journey: God’s word and music. As always, God’s word brought comfort and the reminder that He sees, He knows, He cares. He loves. There is purpose in pain. Not a single second of this grief is wasted; it has purpose.
I opened my YouVersion Bible app and clicked on one of my saved reading plans from Your Time of Grace titled, “Don’t Lose Heart.” As always, God’s word was timely. I needed to hear this truth, that God acknowledges the hurt, yet supplies encouragement, endurance, and hope to persevere the permanent circumstances of child loss.
I also replayed a powerful song message from earlier in the week that I have on my playlist by Shane and Shane featuring John Piper. (Piper comes in at about the 3:30 mark.) I thank God for speaking through His people, people with the gift of music and preaching.
When one’s loss is permanent and grief launches an unexpected “miss”ile, it is all too easy to become discouraged, to succumb to despair and the thoughts of depression. But what a simple game of football with the Vikings taught me yesterday was this: persevere, do not give up, do not lose hope. We who grieve have the greatest coach, the LORD God Almighty, guiding us, teammates running alongside us, and a cloud of witnesses cheering us on to the finish line.
I miss Matt. I will never stop missing him, not until I enter paradise and the presence of God and meet Jesus face to face. But until then, I am called to persevere with joy, in the strength and grace of God. With faith, hope, and love, I will run into the end zone of heaven some day…right into the arms of my savior Jesus Christ, and my son Matt. What a touchdown that will be. #notlosingheart