FRODO: I can’t do this Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
I am holding your brother as they carry your holy body into the church. His terrified heart thumps hard and loud against my arms and I can hear it above the wailing. There is no space to move here, a crowd weeps by the door, and I can’t hold back my tears thinking: you are so dearly loved. Hours later I am holding your best friend as you are being released into the ground. Your friends are all sweat and dirt for you, digging through the red soil with every inch of their strength beneath the scorching sun. There is nothing they wouldn’t do for you. We stand around you singing, unable to move.
It is too early for us to part ways; you are only 16.
It is 19:11 and I am beckoned by the vibrating device in my pocket. I take out my phone and read,
“I took pills. I dnt wnt to live anymre.”
The pounding in my ribcage cries louder, aches, and fear grips my already fragile heart.
“My mother never loved me,” she weeps, “my father never cared.”
The doctor walks into the room and asks me for his name. I say her obviously-feminine name. He glares at me with his eyebrows raised, asks in disgust, “she’s a girl?” I muster the strength to politely declare “yes,” but I look him in the eyes, with a look that speaks far louder than my words: how dare you be so ignorant. He looks at me and sees the color of my skin unlike the color of my dear friend’s, so he questions who I am, questions my presence with her here in the hospital. He asks for time alone with her. I turn to her, repeat his question out loud, knowing that the last place she ever wants to be is confined to a room with any man. I respectfully tell him “no sir, she’d like me to stay.”
She lies on the examination bed, he puts his stethoscope beneath her shirt to her chest and I watch as her chest starts heaving beneath his hand. Tears glide down my face, she is remembering the evil once done to her.
Who knew a heart could know so much heartache in the small space of 6months; from sickness to HIV, death, child suicide attempts, abuse, stoning, loss, grief, abandonment and pain. There is more in life than what we see and say, there is more that goes unheard and unspoken. There is so much more that is begging to come out into the light, if only we ask, if only we pay closer attention. As chasers of the light, we keep pushing to see and know the light, no matter how much darkness we discover in the world. Sometimes a series of heartaches leave us questioning, other times they grow in us resilience. Sometimes it only takes a moment to shake you to the very core; the light is no longer seen to shine, causing you to question everything you have ever known and believed.
It is February 14th 2017, I am awake on the other side of the Atlantic, waiting for my sister to leave the doctor’s office, confidently waiting to hear that her MRI is clear. My brother-in-law is driving them home, and I am trying to decipher her message – tumour- surgery-neurosurgeon – between my sobbing and devastation.
In a moment, immeasurable fear, uncertainty, grief.
In a moment, on another side of the Atlantic, my mother’s heart is breaking, and my father looks desperately for answers.
Days of appointments and tests turn to weeks and months.
“Where were you when a 7-year old baby girl was raped?”
“Why did you take my friend’s life at 16?”
“Why did You allow a foreign mass inside my sister’s brain?”
“What of all the goodness I have always attributed to You?”
“Where are You now, God, where are You now?”
Emotional exhaustion, anger, disappointment.
When questioning everything, there comes a gaping hole in your heart, leaving you unable to recognise the face in the mirror. Sometimes if you walk out so far from the place you once called home, you even become unrecognisable to the ones who know you the most. With a heavy, stone-cold heart, struggling to process and accept every calamity, my choices led me further and further from what I have always known to be Truth.
Through the wrestling, months of giving God the cold shoulder and wandering so long not knowing my real name, there was always one constant; family, and the friends I call family, who even when I made worse than bad choices and caused collateral damage along my way, never stopped believing in who they know me to be. When my heart couldn’t bear a word or touch from God, He came softly and quietly through the close people around me.
And that was where He was all along.
Though grief and disappointment will never be easy roads to tread, there is precious love that is a mighty companion.
There is an ethereal creature that lives in the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. It is no beauty to behold, but it’s wonder is in its resilience and ability to withstand the depth, darkness and pressure of the Mariana Trench. In a moment, all of life can change to darkness. Yet, in the exact same moments, there are ethereal snailfish who swim deep into the trench with us to withstand the same pressure and darkness.
Countless names and countless faces.
Courageous, tender hearts who are unafraid to share in the ache.
Relentless lovers and believers in the goodness in us.
“It’s not creation that’s the marvel, it’s the restoration to wholeness that is remarkable. That the destruction and ruin can be restored”