Another August has come and gone. This year marked six years from the day of my son’s accident. Of course, every day I think of him, but on special days like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, I take extra time to reflect on life before and life after. This year was no different.
There is a mirror from an old building in my garden. There are 4 hooks on the frame as if it were a coat rack of some sort in its previous service. The mirror is on the fence facing east. It reflects the garden so that when I look at it from the house, I can see the beautiful green signs of life reflecting from the garden. In the mornings, it reflects the light. It is old, it is broken and worn down, yet it is still able to reflect images and light.
The mirror reminds me of how I felt after my son died. I could not look in the mirror. I could not bear to see the pain that was etched in my face, the deadness of my eyes. I could not imagine life beyond that moment. That painful horrific moment I heard the chaplain deliver the news about my son.
In the weeks and months following, the mirror reflected, not beauty, but pain. At some point, I realized that where I saw pain and the end of life, God saw beauty. God sees me in a way that I cannot. Isaiah 61:3 says, “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes,”. As I venture through grief, I continue to read God’s word. early on, I mainly stayed in Psalms; David’s pain was so real and so much like my own. The words he wrote speak to me in a way that is real.
In the beginning of life “after”, it was difficult to read anything at length. But every time I could find a verse to heal, I stored it away to examine later. I would return to the verses and ask God to show me how I could move forward, how I could keep living. Eventually I could look in the mirror and see that God had exchanged beauty for ashes. The pain that had been reflected back to me no longer kept me from looking in the mirror.
It was not that the pain was gone. But with the passing of time, God’s Love, His grace, changed the pain. I was able to live with it. I was able to take out the hurt and look at it through the lens of grace.
The mirror was no longer something to avoid but a tool to help me see the goodness and light that was around me. The mirror no longer reflects hurt and loss, rather it reflects hope. Like that old mirror in the garden, I am a bit worn out and a little cracked, but I am still useful, I am still able to reflect light. And when I cannot, I seek God’s grace and love and mercy and He sustains me and restores me.