the outpouring breaches the surface and
A jagged ache and throbbing beneath, under-internal, that forces the tiny distresses violently to their birth then to a sudden, dry death. Erupted exposure, then suffocated. Tears are not just drops that fly from ducts and slide through eyelashes toward their doom, caught away by the loving hands of family. First, I feel them like long, vibrating, lightening fingers–reaching electric through my neck, the plates of my skull, my finger nails. Swimming through my body before they arrive to–visible. An ominous churning in the foundation before breaking. A jolt and a burning. A perpetual buzzing and clenching and twisting and tension through dense muscle fiber. An agonizing and uncontrollable constriction and contracting of the body.
These buzzing and tingling sensations interrupt the surreal state. Looking out of my eyes, like through smudgy, dirty windows, it looks like hazy, looks like clouded. But these exposures and fingers tell me that the pain is very much actual and absolute and indisputable. And they also tell me that I’m not outside it, but whirling within it. Like a knife burying slowly, steady into the chest and the consciousness of pain comes on, not immediately as one would think, but several seconds later, delayed. A live-streamed reality where the audio comes shortly behind and never quite matches the physical motion of parted lips.
But somehow I stand on a Rock in the midst of the whirling storm around me.
Strong, steadfast men sit uncovered. They grip hope and they own it in sadness, and I see them suck in their breath and hold it and let it out in exhale and wipe their eyes, integrity and vulnerability mashed together. They weep openly, with soul-tearing cadence. These sons, these grandsons. Then quietly, quietly. They are like faint echoes and inflection. A sweet, vibrating hymn. A pulse and a lilt. Tears. A psalm-song plays in these bodies surrounded.
His aged, broken, and paralyzed body lay. And my grandmother prayed for mercy under a dark sky and moon from God, and He heard and He answered. Slipped from here into a newness, a glory-life built, in a whole body, waiting for all of us who are here still, restless but trying to be patient. A very loved, compassionate soul, leaving a void that aches down low and hollows thunderous in hearts that called him their own.
When I witness men cry I come undone; needles of reality become and they center into my flesh, and sorrow mingled with joy arrive and puncture.
I watched him use his hand to wipe his own tears mere days before, as men flew on airplanes and drove in cars to come to him and pray with him. I stood and watched as a man slowly passed from this life into the next over days. Slowly, so slowly, but terribly fast. A tear, and a hard squeeze of the good hand, and a paralyzed half-smile, and an I-love-you-whisper, and a “wow” from his lips as he looked upward, and his children on his shoulder, and forehead to forehead with his soulmate wife, and a–gone. It will be a long time before I see him again. That is why men cry. For the time between the goodbye and the welcoming, comfort of love-embrace.
In an instant, bricks can crash, and crack, and smash, and sound suddenly lurches to meet the live-streamed motions–a rupturing, a weighted severance shouts with deafening shrill, in garish finality. My mind rummages frantically to memorize in haste, to replay, replay replay until it is automatic: his familiar, gentle voice, his soft limp and gait, his eyes filled with love and compassion, his hands clasped over mine, his curved down smile, the tiny beat and inflection of his laugh, his fresh cologne smell, and his devoted presence, before I forget them.
This tearing removal, this harsh division from a self so loved, is a testament, a confirmation. A terrible glimpse into the Father and Son cut-severed during bodily death, before final Life. An arduous, but humble willing— this tearing apart hurts and burns and scars forever like a branding, and frees.
This is a death that must take place. A death that leads to life. To real. A death that will come for us all and only One Way to cross over into.
Funeral roses actually smell sweet, and fragrant. An unusually soft and velvety comfort. We pull them from the casket and rub them on our cheeks and they hold and melt and absorb the tears, these soul aches, into their death and we hang the stem and petal to dry and remember.
As if through a mirror dimly, faces smudge on frosted glass. And I smell him when I walk into my grandparent’s house, mingled with the smell of my grandma, because he really was there once, and now he is not. A veil that cannot be crossed until it is our turn, but I can see him turning and looking, his familiar blue eyes and his smile that turns downward and I know he would say:
The one that you loved, cherished, embraced; the one you now weep for, ache for, and recognize; that feeling, a void deep down, for the man that you knew to be compassionate, slow to anger, forgiving, loving, steadfast, faithful, true….it was not me! But it was Him. It was my Jesus whom you ache for. It is what he told us while he was even still with us. Not I, but Him.
And this is the legacy of my Grandfather….that God is real, and greatly to be praised.