It has been 5,000 days since I was struck with an insatiable hunger. A hunger and a longing for the physical presence of my little boy. I remember the intensity of what that new grief felt like. It was completely unfathomable for me to think I could survive another day or even another hour without him—and the thing that petrified me the most was that I would continue to live without him.
I was hungrier than I knew was possible and what I longed for was something I could not have. Rather than being nestled in my lap, my son was lying in the ground. Peace was nowhere to be found. Joy—impossible. My heart physically hurt. Every thought was wrapped in this hurricane of grief. My empty arms ached. Every breath took effort.
But then He showed up.
And in His compassion, He has continued to show up day after day. He has fed me and sustained me through an unthinkable sorrow. At first, He did it by putting people in my life who were willing to show up and support our family. Through their hands, He fed me with casseroles, and cards, and thoughtful gifts, and the companionship of those who were brave enough to sit beside me and hear the sounds of my wailing.
He fed me by helping me find ways to love the child I could no longer care for physically. He helped me find ways to create purpose in my pain. He introduced me to beautiful souls who also know the ache of losing a child. He sustained me through the books written by courageous grievers who were willing to tell their stories of loss. He has graced me with a better understanding of how to meet others in their suffering.
He did not lay the banquet for all five thousand days at my feet at once, giving me the certainty that I would be OK. Instead, He called me to build my faith and trust in Him one day at a time.
Like mana in the desert of my grief, He gave me just enough to get through each day. One bite at a time, He has satisfied my hunger for peace and is quenching my longing for joy. One morsel at a time I am reassured that my son’s soul is alive and well in another plane of existence. He has sustained my hope for an eternity together with a promise of Heaven.
Only now, in looking back, can I see how God in his mercy has done the impossible.
He has nourished the heart of a bereaved mother for 5,000 days.
And then, when I step back and survey what has always seemed like just enough to get through the day, I see the reality of His abundant generosity and the baskets of leftover nourishment that feed the other parts of my life.
They are baskets of deeper faith, stronger trust, and a foundation of peace that helps me weather the new storms of life. There are baskets of new and meaningful connections to others, of being able to hold space in my life simultaneously for both joy and sorrow, and of knowing with certainty that love transcends death. It is the basket of knowing that it can be well with my soul even when all is not well in the world.
Though we might not get to choose the menu, if we are willing to sit with Him in the wilderness, He will patiently and generously feed us with what we truly need in our hunger.