As I sat on the floor Tuesday morning and sorted the boys’ school books into their backpacks, the gaping void that Kristi’s passing left sucker punched me and I was a mess. Tears steamed down my cheeks while I double checked their supplies. Matt didn’t miss my obvious emotional struggles and he passed the word to Luke that “Dad is sad.”
Soon Luke was hugging my neck and then I heard sniffling and sorrowful whimpers emanating from the pantry closet where Matt had retreated to let his own tears flow. We all pulled it together enough to get the boys off to their first day of lessons at our friend’s house. But I was on the edge of tears all day. Kristi had become so competent with everyone’s curriculum, the scheduling, and the actual instruction that it had become second nature to her. Plus she loved it. These last several years she had come to revel in her roles as mom, wife and educator. Not that it didn’t challenge her to the core, it did. But it was her call and she embraced it.
Just as the boys were leaving the piano tuner showed up. We hadn’t had it tuned since right after moving from Liberty Hill, over two years ago and it was sounding decrepit. The girls started piano lessons again yesterday afternoon for the fall and Katie has four piano students of her own, so it needs to sound good. But as the piano tuner and I talked, he couldn’t remember coming out to our new place and he gave me a baleful look when he heard the condition of the instrument. I had to explain why we hadn’t had him out in the last year. He expressed his condolences on Kristi’s loss and set to work. But every note he adjusted hammered my heart strings with the reality that I won’t hear Kristi play again.
The piano was also Kristi’s domain. She had eleven students when she was diagnosed and even picked up a few of them again during her brief remission. If educating was her call and mission, music was her joy. But as the piano tuner bade us farewell Megan seated herself before the keys and soon lovely music from the movie The Man From Snowy River was dancing in the air. Life does go on. But Tuesday’s events unmasked the raw nerves that have been buried in all the stress, travel, adjustments and daily life of the past two months.
Yes, it’s been almost two months now since Kristi died. Entering her dominion this week as the Fall schedule kicked off in earnest has revealed the full magnitude of her loss. Yesterday was better. I only cried a few times. I got a little more figured out about the school and activity schedules. This evening is Megan’s first volleyball game of the season. Life is progressing. And we are not alone. We are under the dominion of Christ who continues to comfort us in our time of sorrow.
The upcoming trip has also provided exactly the energy I was hoping. In the week since telling the children, it has come up again and again as we anticipate various aspects of the impending adventure. It keeps us from feeling sorry for ourselves and lifts our gaze into the future and off our present sorrows. As we ate dinner together last night we discussed ‘deep vein thrombosis’, a potential blood clot condition that can affect travelers who sit for long periods during international long haul flights. Megan thought that term was funny and as only she can do, affected a humorous accent and made a funny remark about it. Matt exploded in laughter and when he gets his tickle box turned over you can’t help but join him. We all laughed ’til we cried. Then we laughed some more.
When the dishes were done and after the neighbor’s dog cared for (they’re traveling), we gathered in the living room and I read another chapter from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Yes, life does go on. And though the sorrow may last for a night, His joy, holy laughter comes and brings healing.
B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…it’s a way of life.