Last summer, while traveling east on the Yellowhead coming into Edmonton, a transport truck decided to change lanes. The problem was, I was passing him at the time, and he wanted the lane I was driving in. A pounded the horn to get the driver’s attention. But he kept on coming. Right before our car was to be smacked, I jumped lanes – without checking my blind spot.
Thankfully, the car in the far left lane noticed what happening and gave me room to slide in.
The experience left me shaking. I keep seeing “what might have happened” being replayed over and over again. I don’t know what kind of damage being sideswiped by and 18-wheeler does to a Honda Accord, but I’m guessing my oldest daughter and my wife would not have walked away from it. Not without a miracle.
When I envision the Nightmare Scenario, where a car accident takes a life, or a spot on the x-ray shows a life-threatening illness, the life I fear most losing is not my own, but my children’s.
A few nights ago my oldest (almost 5) sat opposite me at the table and started talking about elephants. My thoughts cut back to that 18-wheeler and how close I came to losing her. I became angry. Not at the driver in particular (but my wife tried to write down his license number to report him) but at the lack of control I have over life and death. Try as I might, I cannot fully protect my children from pain and death. There will be a day when I will say good-bye, by either their deaths or mine. That when we close our eyes in death, we will not open them again. Relationship ended.
That worries. And makes me angry.
Some might say that I lack faith. That I should cling to the resurrection for the assurance that relationships don’t end with the grave.
And I do find comfort in Jesus’ promise of new life, where “God will wipe every tear from our eyes.”
I find comfort. But I don’t find peace.
I think back to the funeral I presided over back in August, where a family said good-bye to a 23 year old man (or boy). They are living the nightmare scenario. I watch them in awe as they show remarkable strength, strength that comes from the deep love that they have for each other, the love they’ve received from their son and brother, and the love they’ve been given by their church family – and their God.
They’ve been comforted. But they’ve been given no peace.
When my oldest yammered on about elephants that day at the kitchen table, I thought my heart was going to burst. Burst from gratitude that this child – this act of grace, a gift I did nothing to deserve – is in my life. And burst from the joy that she and her little sister give me.
Even when they make me crazy.