The skies of September are sapphire backdrops for the altering leaves. Crisp, almost-frosty air catches one’s breath away, and forces the hand to reach for a jacket that will be forgotten by the end of day. New routines, unblemished notebooks, clean back-packs, unmarred grade books energize the lives of children, parents, teachers, and business people alike. Tillers-of-the-soil, husbandmen of the world prepare mammoth machines to thresh the seed from the chaff as growing-green slips away to harvest gold.
This neon paint-box world was shattered into broken shards. Smoke, ash, debris rained down thick like tar. Brave souls responded in hero ways as they entered fire-ball towers to lead others to life.
A year later, collective images played across media screens and through our minds as we remembered the details of where we were, how we felt or failed to feel in our numbness. After three hundred sixty-some days, removed by over a thousand miles, the reality still escaped me. Thousands of families still reeling in pain and loss, or numb as history was being made in exchange for their loved ones.
Then, a moment in time helped me feel their pain.
Again, the azure skies belied the perfect September morning. Slowly the yellow orb was warming the crystal-cool atmosphere. The gentle morning was splintered into another dimension.
“Come, quick. No, don’t take time to dress. Come NOW!” as she turned to go back to the side of her mate of forty-eight years.
His granddaughter, my first-born, gave CPR. It seemed like forever. Who called “911” on that morning? A detail lost in the chaos and carnage. First responders came and released the burden from his little “Trols” as he’d named her before she was born.
And he was gone. His body rushed to the hospital, but no rescue to his heart. It tore us in pieces, in shock, immobilized. Ripped away from the fabric of our everyday lives, leaving frayed edges where his soul so recently completed the canvas.
Now the remembering of towers being crashed, airplanes as inhabited suicide bombs, fire-breathing sulfur attacking civilians became real.
2 Corinthians 1:4-5 says “ 4 He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. 5 For even as His suffering continues to flood over us, through the Anointed we experience the wealth of His comfort just the same.”
Eleven years after his abrupt departure, the painful shock, the freezing numbness, the wanting to go back in time and undo those minutes remains.
The comfort received in those hours and days wrapped around us like a home-made afghan or fresh-from-the-oven caramel rolls. We were carried when we lost strength to go forward. Like empty vessels, energy and understanding were poured into us.
While life has been forever altered, adjustments have come. We do not forget. We display his paintings. We tell Ole and Lena jokes—his favorite. We TRY to repeat the Norweign table grace—with terrible accents. Lefse is served as a Christmas treat, though we leave the lutefisk for the angels to serve. Occasionally, we discover a card he designed, or find a picture of his card-playing friends and their silly shenanigans. And always his faith, the search for acceptance that came only from his Heavenly Father, when his earthly dad deserted him and his mom.
Without faith, remembrance would be only pain, only loss, only sorrow. There would be no comfort, for we could not understand that comfort comes through suffering. We would fight the pain, run from the loss, ignore our sorrow rather than rest in HIS comfort.
With faith, we experience comfort, not only from God himself, but from the body of Christ. And over time, the tears give way to laughter in our remembrances. Comfort not only fills, but overflows. Our lives are a testament that calm is available, soothing heart-wrenching history into a walk of faith.