REMEMBERING THE FUTURE
Flipping through channels yesterday afternoon, I was stopped by these words, “The most painful state of being is remembering the future…”
This morning, unable to forget that statement, I went on line to discover that those words were written by the Danish Philosopher and Theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, who lived and wrote in the 19th century. His complete statement was, “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you will never have.” Kierkegaard is describing a feeling of somber nostalgia for unrealized possibilities, a sense of regret or grief for the future that will never be.
In the last six years, I have spent a good amount of time doing just that. Many of you will remember that, after waiting a lifetime, at the age of seventy-seven, I finally married for the first time.
I actually don’t remember thinking about what the future would be like with sweet Cecil. If I had thought about it, I would have acknowledged that, at our age, we would never celebrate a twenty-fifth anniversary, but ten years together was not out of the question.
However, I was so taken up with the fairy tale aspect of the present, the excitement of preparing for a wedding, and the fact that a wonderful man loved me that I gave little thought to the future.
When I walked down the aisle toward my beaming bridegroom, on that chilly February afternoon, there was not a cloud in the sky. The future could be nothing less than glorious.
After a storybook honeymoon, we came home to learn how to live with each other. I had always lived alone, but Cecil was not hard to get used to. We lay side by side late into the night making plans for the future. We snuggled on the sofa, prayed together, and held hands. Cecil mowed the lawn, and I did the laundry, and five months later, he was gone dying from an inoperable aortic aneurysm.
I was devastated. The tears wouldn’t stop. I stood before his portrait and howled like a banshee. We had never spent a Christmas together, never celebrated my birthday, and we would never observe one wedding anniversary. So many “Nevers!” A funeral and a burial will be a big part of my memories.
The French have a term, “déjà vu” meaning the strange feeling that in some way you have already experienced what is happening for the first time. I don’t know if it fits here, but I have imagined the joy of Christmas with Cecil sitting by the tree opening gifts, enjoying the turkey and the pecan pie. In thought, I have vicariously experienced river cruises we planned, and the missions work on our agenda. I am remembering first time experiences that have never happened and never will happen.
When I open the drapes each morning, I am face to face with his smiling photo. I can greet him now without tears, but I am always wondering where he is. I admit that I do scold him once in awhile, when I must deal with mechanics, when a light bulb needs changing, when I don’t want to go alone. Last year was a difficult, painful time for me. I could imagine Cecil’s tenderness as he cared for me. I was mad at him! Why wasn’t he there?
“Where are you, when I need you, Cecil?
I can almost see his broad grin as he runs to help.
Cecil still fills much of my thoughts. The knowledge that our future has been lost is ever present. In a sense, I will never stop suffering the loss. I still want to know the “what ifs,” the parts that cannot be answered. I still want to know what my future life would look like, but—
One cannot grieve forever. Life goes on. Being a child of God and knowing Christ as I do, I know He has a plan for my life, and even at the age of eighty-three, there is still a purpose for my remaining years. I will not spend my time crying “If only,” and longing for something that cannot be.
The sweet singer of Israel says, in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.”
Again, in Psalm 30:5, David tells us, “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
That’s my story. My Father has healed my broken heart and bandaged the hurts. Night is passed and morning has dawned. That supernatural joy that only God can give, the joy I thought was lost has returned, and there is a song in my heart.
Just a note: God’s healing is complete, but grieving is a process. It was close to two years before I was sort of my old self again able to return to the main stream, able to resume my responsibilities. Though I will always love Cecil and think of him, I want you to know I have not been crying for six years. God’s healing really is wondrous!
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!