It was a gorgeous day - the type you rarely get in spring. As the afternoon wore on, I decided to get out for a walk. Nothing more would happen that day, so I headed out to walk up to a tiny hill near my house - a place I often went to cry and to talk to God.
I had been out the day before on this same path with my kids, all of us laughing in the blessing of such weather, enjoying the chance to walk and listen to the birds. Today's walk was so different. Tears threatened to spill on the long walk up the hill. I longed to throw myself down and sob, but something held me back. If I was going to cry, I wanted to throw myself down in a quiet place in front of the God who held my heart. Knowing He was not surprised by the day's events, I knew He was prepared to hold me through the raw pain. It was ok to hurl myself into His arms with all the hurt and trust Him to carry it.
I got to the top of my hill, sat on a stone there, and cried. Here is a place of quietness, and I cried until my heart was empty. Then in the silence after the tears, I talked to God. I told Him that I didn't even know how to pray. I knew what I wanted, but did not want to demand. Willing to accept what He had ahead of me, and asking for strength to walk this path well. I prayed for these two that I love... the only time I had during the crisis to sit and actually spend time praying for them. I prayed that God would calm their hearts, give them clarity, peace, strength, and encouragement. That they would sleep since it was night, and that above all, they would not feel guilty or think on the mistakes, but know that God had chosen that they walk this path. He was with them.
Later on, I found out that the timing of this time on the hill was interesting - it lined up with something happening over there... but then, I did not know that.
Then still, with a very quiet heart, I went back to the lessons I had learned when my daughter had died. I made choices then that enabled me to go through that time, and I looked up again at God. I took a deep breath, very aware of what this could be meaning, and told Him the same choices then. "I chose not to question Your right to make this choice and accept that You have our best in mind. I chose not to question Your love as we walk through this pain." Not easy choices... but when all you have is God, throw yourself full force at Him. It was not a time for half-hearted trust, I knew that.
Again the tears came, and again I sat still for some time. Then quietly, I told God, "Please just let me know what is going on. Don't leave me not knowing for weeks and months on end, please. Just let me know if he is alive or dead. I can't handle the not knowing for so long."
Then I got up and began the walk down the hill and through a little patch of woods. As I walked down the hill, I saw a picture in my head. It was so similar to the picture I had after my daughter died, right before I delivered her tiny body. Again I was looking at a green hill with the rising sun coming up. My husband was walking up that hill into the light, and our daughter, Lydia, came running down toward him laughing. When he caught sight of her, he ran, swooped her up in a hug and spun her around. They both were laughing, with tears running down their faces. Happy.
I laughed. It was so beautiful that I smiled and kept smiling for my walk through those woods. So beautiful. So full of life. And through tears, I said to myself, "At least if they do kill him, at least one of us will finally be able to hug our baby, to be with her!" I have longed for thirteen years to hold my daughter just once, and there was such a joy to think one of us could. So I laughed. And then I thought, "Why am I so afraid of death? There is no such a thing as death for us. There is only life, a richer, more alive life."
From that moment on, I did not struggle with the fear of death. It still was there - fear of him being killed, of going on without him, but not the dread of death. Death is not final, life is.
But as I continued to walk I wondered, "God what are You trying to tell me with this picture?" Was it only not to be afraid of death? Was it only to remind me of the lessons He taught me when He took my daughter or was He trying to gently tell me something?
I did not know. That question lingered throughout the long night that I was alone. But so did the joy, the comfort... the peace in remembering that we have life that no one can take from us.