It’s a beautiful sunny day, I’m standing in an aisle of Canadian Tire and WHAM, it hits me: my Dad is really gone and has been for 5 years. I guess it’s the weird rubbery smell that reminds me of my Dad- my Dad who kept things meticulously and found much of what he needed to accomplish this at Canadian Tire. It could be that I am reminiscing about how he kept up his car and the Armor All is staring me in the face. I’m not really sure, except that what I call the “wave of grief” is threatening to turn me into a weepy mess right beside the nice 18 year-old in a work uniform who thinks I just want to wash my car.
I excuse myself and head for the door. Then it’s like the domino effect: I think of others who are gone too, of broken relationships, of friends who are here, but struggling to survive. I consider the many injustices of this world. I reflect on all that is broken in my own life and I just want to fix it. I become desperate for relief from the grief, but know that the only way through is to ride the wave. I have to weep. I have to pray. I have to be alone.
In the quiet I can hear a dear PNC friend asking me this: “I’ve squandered most of my life away. I’ve hurt people. I’ve hurt myself. What can I possibly do now to not squander the remainder of my life?” This question rises up out of the raw grief that she feels almost every moment of every day. I didn’t know how to respond at first. My feeble response was this: I think that trying to love well is the only thing any of us can do.
I can’t fix any of this. I can’t bring back my Dad. I can’t get all my friends off the streets. Nor can I ignore that justice is lacking in this world and do nothing. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbour. Easy? No. Is it the only thing that will make a lasting impact? Yes.
I will never get over my “griefs”. How can I get over the people I have lost? In a funny way the incident at Canadian Tire is actually a gift: it helped release a whole load of pent-up emotion, brought back memories I don’t want to forget and made me long for death to be put to death. Grief is something I can hold tenderly and face when it draws so very close. Grief reminds me that what abides is faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.