I received a phone call today from my mom, letting me know that a friend of mine died this morning.
It wasn’t a complete shock- it was cancer. It was coming. But isn’t it funny that no matter how much we know something like this is going to happen, it still shocks the system. At least, it still shocked me. He leaves behind an amazing wife and three young kids, friends, siblings, parents, and a church family- all who loved him dearly. My heart aches just to write it.
I talked to his sister on the phone, I made arrangements to drive from Nashville to Atlanta for the funeral, and I cried once.
The rest of the day was auto-pilot. Purchase a black dress [all my dresses are packed away in a storage unit… different story for a different time]. Reschedule events for the rest of the week. Make sure all mutual friends are informed. Call his sister again, just to hear her voice and offer a moment of friendship.
I’m staying with some friends for a few weeks- a married couple that are as close to family as you can get without actually having to share my blood or share responsibility for my mistakes. 🙂 I was the first one home, so I piled myself on the couch, ready to relax into the sadness. I had some writing to do [ahem…], but my soul felt dreary.
It wasn’t long until my friends were home.
And it wasn’t long until they were holding a collection of four ultrasound photos in front of my eyes.
A baby. Their first. A life created.
I cried. [Ultrasounds ALWAYS make me do that. I do not know why.] The tears rolled out like they had just been waiting on permission to do so. The absolute joy over this little one’s new life mixed with the sadness of the death of a friend made my insides confused and left me in a puddle.
Through the tears, I asked a thousand questions, including if they wanted to name their baby after me if she is a girl. [The jury is still out on that one.] The rest of the night went along with random spurts of baby talk mixed in with brownies to celebrate and a few episodes of shows that make us laugh.
And now the day is done. I doubt I will live another one like this. Life and death, joy and sorrow, a father joins the ranks of great dads as one leaves.
. . . . .
I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell the difference between a sunrise and a sunset just by seeing a picture (like the one above). They just look too similar.
It seems that no matter which way the sun is going, the colors display the beauty and the majesty of God.
And after my experience today, I think something about that feels very true.
. . . . .
By Annie Downs // AnnieBlogsLeave a Comment
Just want you to know that no one cries alone when I’m around…even if I’m just reading that you’re crying, so am I. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your sorrow and your joy. God bless you Annie.
Becky M says
My husband and I are amateur photographers – and I really appreciated your comment about “can’t tell the difference between sunrise and sunset.” I have thought of that before but the context you placed it in struck a chord in me. God bless you and your friends.
Angela Nazworth says
Oh Annie…this post was so beautiful.
Oh Annie that was so beautiful. The circle of life is painful some times. Sharing your sorrow, your joy and said a prayer for you!
Patricia (Pollywog Creek) says
So, so beautiful. And the analogy to sunrises/sunsets? Perfectly stunning. May that truth carry you through this time of grief.
I am a doula and while attending a birth this winter received the phone call that my Grandmother was hours from passing. I felt like I lived the rest of that day between two worlds. By the end of the afternoon a precious little man had entered our world and my grandmother has left it. The circle of life continues. I, too, loved your sunrise/sunset analogy.
A beautiful post… thank you. I sit here with tears in my eyes because sadly, I am about to lose my father. I’ve spent the past week sitting at his bedside, saying everything I need him to hear.. and everything I need to say. The emotions, lack of sleep, being apart from my husband and kids, and the enormity of losing the man who chose to be my father is overwheming. I look to the sky continually…reminding myself that he is going to glory and I will be with him again someday. My faith sustains me.
Colleen…..many soft hugs to you and your father. I know how difficult, yet special this time is for you, as I did the same journey with my Mama. Should you need to talk/vent, please email me at isabeljohannes at gmail dot com. God bless you, my sister…
so beautifully written. thank you for sharing it with us.
It’s a circle, you know, life and death. One beautiful soul leaves us to be with God, and a new, beautiful soul leaves God to be with us. I am so sorry about your friend’s death; Cancer truly sucks.
….but I am so thrilled that you get to share in your friend’s amazing adventure into parenthood!!
Jeanne Damoff says
This spoke so deeply to me in these days of my mother declining with Alzheimer’s and my children making me a grandmother. I’ve thought a lot about how we have to hold all gifts in open hands, letting go of what was to receive what is — such an exquisite mingling of pain and joy. It really is much like the ache of a glorious sunrise or sunset — both stunning in their wonder. We embrace the beauty and would never wish to have missed it, even though it lasts but a moment.
Thank you for this gift today. And may the Lord comfort all who grieve the loss of your dear friend.
Lynne Hartke says
I have been living a sunrise/sunset summer as I walk with my parents through cancer and am also expecting my first grandson in August. I got back last night from visiting my folks as they contemplate selling their family home of almost 50 years. I write about it here: http://hartke-teetertottering.blogspot.com/2011/07/lessons-from-corn.html.
I loved your sunrise/sunset illustration. Thank you for that.
Thank you, Annie for this post. I pray that you will feel the incredible presence of God as you grieve the loss of your friend. I, too, loved the sunset/sunrise analogy.
This post brought back memories from 30 years ago. My father passed away from cancer the same day I felt life with our first child. It was the Lord’s gracious promise of hope to me as he allowed me to experience this sunset/sunrise moment. Thank you so much for this beautiful expression of that hope.
Rhonda J. Smith says
I love how God sends messages that we need right when we need them. All week I have been thinking of the beauty that often comes from the tragic. I don’t know what may be in store for me, but I will carry your sunset/sunrise analogy with me for that moment. May God bless you as you mourn the death of your friend and celebrate the life of friends’ baby.
Annie Downs, your blog posts always move me.
You write beauty, Annie.
I am sorry to hear about your friend. I hate cancer.
Thank you for sharing this with us Annie. Life … sun rises … sun sets … life continues even as some don’t. I remember when my father-in-law died suddenly, I was shocked to go to the grocery store and hear everyone laughing and scurrying on with life.
I can understand your emotional rollercoaster a little bit. I found out two summers ago that I was going to lose my dearly beloved grandfather in just a few weeks time to cancer. I also found out I was going to be a grandma for the first time. Emotional rollercoaster. The highs and the lows all wrapped up together at the same time.
Shaunie Friday says
“. . . I can’t tell the difference between a sunrise and a sunset just by seeing a picture . . . It seems that no matter which way the sun is going, the colors display the beauty and the majesty of God.”
Oh Annie! This may be my favorite post of yours ever, and the part I quoted is beyond special!! Thank you for this!!
I lost a dear friend who is like a 2nd mother to me yesterday, and a rather new friend gave birth to her first child yesterday. I can relate to this rollercoaster you are on. It is good that God carries us through it all, and shows us His majesty in it all.
Oh my! This is simply beautiful.
Betty Draper says
Recently 20 some young people came to Papua New Guinea where we live to work and experience mission first hand. so many of them took pictures of the sunset and sunrises with coconut trees in the back ground with the Pacific ocean as the backdrop to add more beauty to their pictures. As i looked at the ones they posted on face book all i could say was how beautiful there were but not beautiful sunset or beautiful sunrise for you are so right…most of the time you cannot tell….how gracious of God to allow that insight to come to your heart to be shared with all of us…perfect….just as the creator of each..sunsets and sunrises.
Thank you for sharing your heart Annie! That was a beautiful post! Hope your day is most incredible….Donna Harrison.. a lover of Christ and a fellow blogger!
Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight says
An incredible image – sunrise, and sunset, near imperceptible in awe-inspiring beauty. Beginnings, Endings – His Glory reigns.
My mother-in-law always tells us that, “You learn to carry joy and sorrow together.” She is a widow of 12 years, and has welcomed 2 DILs, and 1 SIL to her family, along with 4 beautiful grandchildren, oh how we wish my father in law was here to celebrate with us! My father took his life this past June, and 11 days later (on father’s day) my husband and I found out we’re expecting our second child. What joy for my aching heart- daddy would have loved our special news! (Ultrasounds do that to me too 🙂
Betty Draper says
Your mother in law is so right Alli, it is a learning process to be able to carry joy and sorrow together but possible with Christ as one gets transformed more and more into His image. Christ carried his joy of each new believer and then of those who turned away daily in His heart….He stood in Jerusalem and cried the beauty of the city before Him with sorrow in his heart as the rejection from so many of who he was. You have joined into the suffering of our Lord… praise God for an understanding you never had before that will give you courage to help others who enter into that learning process of carrying joy and sorrow together. Great heartfelt post..one i will read several times. thank you