He holds fast to the memory attached to this swing. He would watch his beloved read books in the shade while gently swaying. He would sit beside her in the evenings while sipping on cool ice tea. Friends and family would arrive for visits and race to be the first one to sit on the swing. Folding chairs were hauled out from the garage and placed in a half-moon circle facing the swing. Sweet times and pleasant memories.
There has always been a wooden swing in the back yard or one hanging on the back porch. Pillows were added for a comfortable touch and cozy enough to lay down and take a nap. He would tie a rope on a branch of a tree or from a corner of the porch, long enough to reach the person sitting in the swing. We would stretch out on the swing, give the rope a tug and rock ourselves to sleep.
Things happen and life changes. She was no longer around to enjoy the swing with him. The rhythm of conversation taking place around the swing stopped because she was not there to talk. He never noticed how old the swing was and how badly the paint had chipped around the edges, until after she was gone. He noticed the swing more after the memories began to fade.
He fought back to keep the memories from disappearing. He bought lumber and set out to build a new swing. He created a swing like the original one he gave her years and years before. He built bird houses near the swing because she always loved to watch the birds. He is pleased with his carpentry knowing how thrilled she would have been and so proud of him. After memories fade, he sits on the swing he built for two and is flooded with peace that he will be with her again one day.
I wrote this two years ago. That wooly mammoth still needs taming, on occasion but thankfully grief is not “the elephant in the room” any longer. We talk about our life without her and lean into the grief and not run from it. It’s amazing how much fun my father and I have together. Mom is pleased, I am sure!
I was with my Dad yesterday. I went to his house to see him. Dad said that I never come over anymore. I have not intentionally stayed away from Dad because we talk all the time and we meet for lunch and dinner on a regular basis. However, after being with him in his home, I realized that I have avoided going there. Even pulling into the driveway and looking at the trees and wilted flower pots filled my chest with void and heaviness. It was difficult to open the back door and walk in. It’s as though I have to push against a huge wooly mammoth to move out of my way just so I can walk in his home. I can’t breathe. And then my father sees me. His smile is big, his arms opened as he moves towards me and we hug and the elephant sitting on my chest doesn’t feel quite as heavy.
I miss mom so very much. My dad misses her more. I seriously doubt that Dad would use the analogy of a wooly mammoth on his chest to describe grief, but he does relate to the heaviness and emptiness without Mom. But, I see a growing peace in his soul as the Lord gently helps him deal with his loss.
He found Mom’s poetry! We thought she had mistakenly thrown the file away, but it was in her office all this time. On top of a shelf, under a stack of books. Dad has been organizing the office, reading her notes, letters, books that she loved…and he discovered the file of poetry. The more I sat with Dad in “his office” and listened to him talk about Mom and her poetry, the more that wooly mammoth moved further away. God is so good. He is more than so good. I can’t describe how good. Only God can tame the wooly mammoth. He is. There is peace in my soul.