If you have read me for a while, you may remember a post a while back about Jon. Jon is a missing person, son of David and Linda. The seasons are beginning to turn, and that brings a whole new set of hurt for anyone who is looking for a missing person. It is a heartbreaking time.
When Jon went missing, I sent a note along to the Francis family, letting them know I was with them in prayer and spirit. I have exchanged a few emails back and forth with Linda. Here is the exchange today. Please keep them in your prayers.
Dear Rachel, I know everyone is busy getting ready for convention
but if you have time to email back that would be great. The searchers
were out looking for Jon again this past weekend. They found
nothing. Now we have to face a very, very long winter and spring.
Would you share with me some of the information about your mother? How do
we get through the months ahead? This is so hard. Peace, Linda
Oh how my heart is breaking with you.
I remember those searches like they were yesterday. Long,
cold, and hoping beyond all hope. My mom used to have a sign up in her
classroom that said “la esperanza muere por ultimo” or hope dies last. These
words became for me a double edged sword. I never wanted to give up hope, and
don’t think I ever really did, but I had to also find a way to live again. People
kept expecting me to be ok – they wanted me to stop grieving or to at least be
happy around them.
Grief does not work
There were days, and sometimes there still are, when I just
could not muster the strength to be out in the world among people. The story of
your missing loved one becomes ancient history to everyone but you, or so it
was for me. There was never a day that my prayer was not something like “God,
please, let me just know where she is!” For 6 and a half years this was my
prayer. For six and a half years this was the thing that clung to me like the
air that I breathed. The thought of my mom was only moments away. We held 3
vigils, had countless searches, and I prayed for her every day.
I am not sure how I got through those times, except to say
that I had to let people (the ones who were not out to fix me or did not expect
me to be something I wasn’t) take care of me, and I had to be gentle with
myself. No matter how much time had passed, I still had to call in to work from
time to time and say that I was sick or needed a mental health day. What was
even more challenging was that by the time my mom was found, my life, my
friends, my job, everything seemed to have changed for me. Very few people were
still there for me as they were in the beginning. As time passed, new people
came and went in and out of my life, but my hurt never changed.
I am sure this is not the email you were hoping for. I have
finally come to peace with the darkness that is and was what happened. I am
forever changed, forever the family member of a missing person. Yes, my mom was
found. She was found in what I call “God’s time, not mine.” And believe it or
not – I consider it to be a blessing. God is so much bigger and can see so much
farther than you or I can. I am not sure how the story will continue to unfold,
yours and mine both. What I do know is the God loves you so radically, so
abundantly, that miracles will cross your path, now and later. I think what
happened for me was that the pain was so present – that I became so sensitive
to my own feelings, my own inner voice, that the space between me and God
became like a thin veil. In becoming sensitive to the pain, I also became aware
of the blessings.
Your skin and heart is raw right now. Be there. Be in that
place fully. Do not let anyone tell you how you need to grieve. No one but you
understands fully the landscape of hurt, so take it in. Pray. Yell. Cry. Be.
God of miracles and mercy, thank you for not holding all those years of swearing and yelling and crying out in anger at you, against me. Thank you for being with the Francis family – for really walking this journey with them. God, give them peace and patience, and a loving community to walk these next few months or however long it will take. In your name, in your time. Amen.