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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I (Ginger) have been thinking on this blog for weeks now. There are so many places I want to go with it that I fear I may take you on a long ride of rabbit trails but I will try to stay focused and record my thoughts in an organized manner. If you were in my head right now you would be dizzy!

Lately I have become obsessed with tear production. Rather the lack of. Seems a huge side effect of PRK and Lasik surgery are dry eyes during the healing period. I have never experienced anything like it. Totally miserable during the first weeks of recovery and now, into my fifth week, it is less of a problem but definitely an issue. It is explained that during surgery the corneal nerves that regulate tear production are "disrupted". I have found that most scientific descriptions of post PRK surgeries sugar-coat the horrors that surround it. This "disruption" in tear production has given me not one night's good sleep in over a month, the constant feeling like I have been standing in front of a wind tunnel with my eyes propped open with toothpicks and all-around general misery. They say that in 6 months all signs of dry eye should disappear. You don't know how much I pray they are right. In the meantime, I am doing everything I can to help the situation. The doctor even plugged up a set of my drainage tear ducts (with some tweezers and a teensy wad of stuff that looked like blue silly putty!) to try to help my eyes hang onto their dimished tear supply. I also supplement my lack of natural tears with artificial ones. Did you know there are 28 different kinds of artificial tears on the market?! This is one area of the beauty aisle I didn't even know existed. Yet now, I am a frequent customer, in search of the one that more perfectly mimics my own. I haven't found one. Seems only God can do that. Naturally, our tears contain three different types that constantly all need to be produced and working in harmony. I am now thoroughly conviced that this is a very important bodily function we should never take for granted.

Jim and I had both read, in different places, that studies had been done on the varied chemical compositions of tears and that ones shed from grief have a different composition than those shed from physical pain or joy. Biochemically, tears of grief release toxins that have built up during emotional stress and release physiological, psychological and spiritual healing. It said it perfectly in one article I read; tears are God's gift to humanity to process the hurt of a painful world. So true, I agree.

When I heard the news of Troy's plane crash it was like a faucet in my eyes was turned on. It didn't shut off for months. I remember thinking one day, about 5 months afterwards, that I finally went through one whole day without crying. It scared me a little because I was so used to it. And though often I would cry so hard I felt like I would throw-up, I usually felt much better when I was finished.

Lamentations 5:17

"Our hearts are sick and weary and our eyes grow dim with tears."

I would cry so hard and for so long that first week that I recall my actual vision being blurry. At first I though it must be caused by my make-up but then I noticed it happened when I had none on. I think this is the dimness spoken of here. Lamentations literally means crying out to God. He created us and penned our stories and therefore must have known it wouldn't be long before we were crying out to Him. Thankfully, He gave me alot of shoulders here on earth to cry on, too. I cried in front of friends and strangers alike. I often made other people cry and there we would be, joined in the harmonious falling of tears. I know people who don't cry easily (Tami :)) and I don't think there is anything wrong with it unless someone feels too embarrassed, ashamed or proud to cry. I let my children see me cry. Not necessarily during the uncontrollable times, as I didn't want to scare them, but I definitely did not want to hide those healthy grief reactions from them. Boston fought the tear flow and still does. I almsot rejoiced on the rare occasions he would cry because I knew he needed to. I think he felt weak, maybe like he wasn't being the man of the house. Or maybe he knew if he cried then I would too. And a boy only wants to see his mama cry so much, you know? My friends and I often found piles of tissues in his bed so I rested in the fact that he might be crying himself to sleep. Seems strange to say I rested in that fact but I knew I felt better afterwards and I hoped for the same relief for him. I would start crying and for awhile there Bella would ask me, "mommy, why are you crying?" and my response was usually that I missed Daddy. Now everytime I cry she asks if I am missing Daddy in heaven? I actually hope my children remember their mother crying from a broken heart over losing their father. I hope they correlate the amount of tears to how much I love and miss him. There were many many nights when I, too, found myself sleeping with a pile of tissues.

Psalm 6:6

"I am worn out from sobbing all night, I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears."

David wrote this during his darker days. I can't even imagine how many more broken people between David's time and mine have done the same. One scripture that always comforted me, even when nothing comforted me, was this one:

Psalm 56:8
"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book."

I believe we wholeheartedly take the Bible as literal and I KNOW Jesus will show me that bottle of mine someday. I think His hands will lovingly open a beautiful journal with all the dates and times and reasons behind each tear I wept. I just believe that is the kind of God He is. He takes our grief and makes it valid and valuable. I believe Jesus, in His tender mercies, wept with me at times. I don't think He would have told us to mourn with those who mourn if He wasn't going to do it Himself.

Romans 12:15
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn."

Music is always a surefire way to make me cry. In the last month Jim and I have been to both Third Day and Mercy Me concerts. If you have listened to any music on our playlist you will see that both groups seemed to minister to us in our grief and sorrow. Third Day's "Cry out to Jesus" is one we have mentioned before. Jim and I have openly cried on one another's shoulders since the day we met. There has been a special kind of healing that has taken place when we have been able to comfort the other or at least do what the Lord told us to do in the above Romans scripture. Simply mourn with someone who is mourning. Is it easy to do this when the one you are holding is crying over the one they powerfully loved long before you arrived in the picture? Absolutely not. But it is necessary for Jim and I to know that we don't have to always cry in solitude. Of course, we do that too.
I know men fear crying more than women. I have seen both my husbands cry and though I know they didn't necessarily like it, I am glad they were able to. I think the first time I saw my dad cry, at all, was when he and Mom put me on a plane to Lakenheath, England to join Troy for our first assignment. I am not sure I saw him cry again for the next eleven years. Then Troy died and I saw my dad weep. He teared up almost as often as my Mom did at times. He will never know how much that meant to me to see him be broken like that and hurt for me like that. In truth, I knew he hurt for himself badly, as well. My dad adored Troy and lost not only a son-in-law but a dear friend. I am thankful that I now see my dad be more emotional than I did growing up. Men will be their strongest in Christ when they surrender their pride and allow weakness to creep in a bit.

II Corinthians 12: 9-10

"But He (God) said to me (Paul), 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'"

Kind of nontraditional for a wedding invite, we know, (we have a nontraditional marriage afterall) but we put this scripture below on our inviation:

Psalm 126:5
"For those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!"

We sowed plenty of tears and were more than happy to reap some joy. The Lord did that for us. Planted a garden full of sadness, watered it with our tears and gave us a harvest of hope in Him, peace and purpose in our lives and the blessing of finding another spouse's arms to rest our weary souls.

Jim and I still cry over Troy and Andrea. And I know over the next couple of months as we both face our anniversaries of loss, we will, perhaps, cry even more. But I want to cling to these two scriptures so I won't cry without hope:

Isaiah 25:8
"He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears."

Revelation 21:9
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Praise God it is not people passing away but death and pain passing away. We can ultimately rest in this truth and live, though grieving, with victory over the grave. I remember Pastor Steve telling me he felt like he had become more serious after his first wife, Pam's, death. Sadness will do this to a person. I see it in myself. Not the kind of devasting depression and dark pit that caused me to feel hopeless, but a thread of sadness or somberness that is continually woven into the fabric of my life. It often rears its head unexpectedly. Like tonight, for instance, as Texas Tech GLORIOUSLY defeated the University of Texas in an incredible football game tonight (I don't even like football and I was yelling at the television!), I felt that familiar "unkind companion", as Marlo refers to it, creep in. Troy and I went to school at Tech, went to football games and have many sweet memories of dating there. I recalled how in the January '07 bowl game each Tech player wore Troy's name on the back of their helmets. That is the kind of university it is. Those are the kind of memories I live with. Yet I live with them with the knowledge that this life is but a vapor. Our lives are a whisper in the wind in comparison to eternity. The pain will pass. Hopefully most of it in this lifetime but certainly He promised it will in the next.

And, yes, I cried while I wrote this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Ginger. I love the way you let us into your life - and your grief.

    Last night as I watched that game - the first thing I thought when they won is how Troy would have loved to see that game. I pictured him jumping up and down in heaven! I didn't know they had written his name on their helmets back then. That is cool.