Saturday, November 17, 2012


I'm sitting in McDonald's playland, fingers salty-slick, refusing to regret the Big Mac. I have friends who would shake their heads if they knew what I'd just eaten. Well, it's their loss, I guess, because right now I taste freedom in two all-beef patties...

The kid are somewhere in the tunnels. My sisters-in-law sit knees-to-knees with me, talking shop. All my questions grab hold of an answer.  I shrug off yesterday's worry, or at least I do right now, right in the neon glow and the echo and the carbonation of this small hour.

Somewhere between my story and hers, the phone rings. I can't believe I heard it, buried low under all of this. I'm sure it's Cory.

Only I've missed it, and it's not.

Something in me says to do it, so I grab the phone and walk out the door, into the dining room where people drink coffee and kids wear their shoes. I call her back, the news is bad, we sit together crying in separate time zones, each with a phone to our ear.

A white-haired lady leaves her table and comes to mine, quietly slipping a brand new packet of tissues across the table-top and I remember again that it's not so normal to ugly-cry in a McDonald's booth. Her kindness pushes down on the sore. I cry harder, right into her willingness to notice the hurt around her and do something about it.

The middle of this story isn't mine to share, but the edges are. They're mine. Is it wrong to feel the bloom of incalculable gratitude in the face of profound loss? I bear the smallest corner of their burden, the one way over at the fringes. I carry it quietly, unsure of how to help, very certain that I can't.

I don't know the right way to grieve this loss. But I feel some of their pain and it wrecks me. It keeps on wrecking me, and I carry on with my life over here, my heart breaking from the shrapnel of theirs while I paint the walls, toast the cheese, dole out the meds.

I never did anything to deserve this - one family stitched to another by the only One who ever knew how much we would need their exact kind of love. So we hurt with them, not because it's the right thing to do, not because we understand much at all about how they feel tonight. We hurt with them because our hearts are neighbors now so we just can't help it, some of their pain bleeds over to where we are.

They have shown us much about the face of Life, the heart of Christ, the beauty of unexpected community. They have made us thankful in life, thankful still in death.

He holds them. He holds them well and with ease. My prayer, my every breath, begs that they know this, that they find their empty hands grabbing on to it right now in the dark.


  1. oh no. thank God for his hope. his promise. his picture of kindness in an old lady with tissues to spare. and this is why we fear community.. for days like this. when their hurts become our hurts too. thankful for Jesus who tells us we are more precious than sparrows.

  2. Wow,what a powerful post. Praying God holds you and your friends close at this time.

  3. I'm so sorry friend.
    So, so sorry.
    I would say something witty about the big mac, but I don't want to cheapen your sadness.
    Sending love.

  4. You've been on my mind and in my heart today. Praying.

  5. Beautiful & heartbreakingly powerful.

    Praying for you tonight.

  6. I paused my night to pray for them. and for you. Much love to you in the midst of heartache.

  7. praying His grace falls around you like a warm blanket. sending love from the pacific nw.

  8. So sorry that you are hurting. I hope that you can find some peace right now. If I was there I would give you a big hug. Praying that God will help you.

  9. So sorry that you are hurting but glad in a weird kind of way. Because we need so much to hurt for others. I love that you have embraced this new life of yours, without shrinking back. And you inspire me (with a good old kick in the behind) to not shrink back.
    I also love how we find Him in the moments that really suck. There's something about Him and His Grace when we hurt that just can't be found when life is hunky dory.
    Thanks for being real x

  10. Praying for you and your friends tonight. Is 26:3-4

  11. Yes, your life is more of a patchwork quilt than mine since he stitched yours together so skillfully and uniquely. But, I can relate to the desperation I found in this post. He IS making something beautiful. I realized recently that if we only know beauty we cannot know Him. Only in deep sorrow and exquisite joy intertwined can we really see His heart. I believe it's in the deeps.

  12. There was a reason she made the call to you. She knew she would hear the words and tears she needed to hear. She knows you really do care. Lifting all up to Jesus tonight, and wishing life didn't have to hurt so much. Also praying for the unknown lady who stepped out of her comfort zone to offer a kindness to a stranger.

  13. I am praying Shannan. Trusting in His promises. (())

  14. Oh Shannan, I am sorry to hear of your aching heart, this life is such a tumble of joy and pain all joined up together isn't it? Wasn't it the Queen who said to Clinton all those years ago that grief is inescapably the other side of love? She doesn't mince her words, Her Maj! I suppose the pain you feel for others is a kind of measure of the love you hold for people and the openness of your heart - not that it makes it any easier to bear. Thinking of you very much from the other side of the Pond. Bx

  15. I'm sorry for the loss experienced by your friend and you. I am thankful for the woman sent by God to minister to you in that moment. Praying for you now.

  16. Saying a prayer. I am sorry for everyone's loss.

  17. Praying for you and His guidance to minister to your friends in their time of loss. So so sorry.

  18. It's a heavy load to carry grief. Tougher still I think to stand beside someone while they carry theirs. There are too many helpless arms and we can't get away with as much when it isn't our own grief. It's the toughest God asks to sit, stand, kneel in your place. You got this. God's got you. You are a great friend. Stay strong little roots.

  19. I was surprised by a science lesson in church this morning. I never knew that the giant towering thousand year old redwood trees have shallow roots. So how do they weather winds and storms? Because they grow together in groups, their shallow roots intertwined with each other for strength and support. That is how we must live together too, don't you think? Maybe not side by side physically, but with hearts intertwined ... like you and your precious friend.

    Love to you and your hurting friend.

    P.S. God bless the tissue lady.

    1. Lovely. Lovely. Loooovely.

  20. Shannan, your friend and your little man are in my thoughts and prayers this evening.

  21. It's so true that when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. Praying for peace. Thankful that He knows what life on earth is really like. He understands. We don't always, but He does. Blessings to you and yours.

  22. i know your friend is grateful for your love, prayers and support.
    sometimes all we need is to know that the ones we love are hurting because we're hurting.

    praying now.

  23. Saying a prayer, sending a hug.

    Janelle T.

  24. I just saw this story and discovered this blog through Susan at My Place To Yours. Your words and the story touched my heart so very much.


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