Today I am guest posting for my dear friend across the pond, Tanya Marlow to kick off her fall series on God and Suffering. Hope you’ll start here and click over and as always thank you for your presence and readership.
This past spring, my husband graduated from Seminary after a seven-year, marathon journey of taking classes when we could afford it, both time-wise and financially. He started on campus, and finished up with intensive courses and online.
To celebrate, we made the seven-hour trip down to Kentucky for the commencement ceremonies. As I took my seat after checking our two children into child-care a single, paralyzing thought occurred to me.
I am here alone.
I was surrounded by a gymnasium of people, clustered together to celebrate their graduates. Some had signs and balloons, most chatted happily as they waited for the ceremony to begin and there I was, literally alone in a crowd.
I started to cry, and masked it by flipping through the program, hoping no one would notice the lonely woman bawling.
Let me fill you in on a little of the backstory as to why I found myself alone that afternoon.
Shortly before I met him, my husband’s father died from two, rare types of brain cancer. The beginning of our relationship was steeped in his grief. His birth mother died a week earlier and, although he hadn’t had contact with her for fifteen years, her death was a hard blow as, with it, all hopes of reconciliation were shattered.
A year and a half later, I received a phone call from my Mother: my father had passed away overnight in his office chair after a sudden heart attack at the age of 49.
Five years after that, another phone call: my mother had taken her own life on the train tracks of our hometown.
So that afternoon I sat at seminary graduation alone, feeling the weight of our collective losses. It wasn’t the first time I felt the holes left behind by our parents, but this time it was particularly sharp.
So many people who should have been there beside me…
As the graduates received their diplomas the people who had gathered to honor them stood to cheer. A few names in, a paralyzing thought occurred to me: “I will be the only one who stands and cheers for him; he deserves so much more than just my lonely voice.”
God why did you have to take them all?