My eyes opened very early again in the dark shadows of our bedroom. Dawn is but a sliver of light as I look across the bay and past the Dumbarton bridge. The fleeting rain and wind may hold off just enough so that Ariana’s memorial won’t become a bleak, soggy gathering of people who may struggle to offer some warmth and comfort. Ariana still hasn’t come to me in my dreams. My husband anxiously waits for the same thing. Why do we expect our daughter to come to us? Her spirit lives so why wouldn’t she want to comfort her parents and tell us that she is fine and is surrounded by love and light? I want to believe that God allows loved ones to visit us, to not just stand by and watch us but I want my little girl to be visible somehow, to hear her message of love and good news. Is that so much to ask Lord?!
Our walking nightmare continues today, but maybe we’ll see a glimpse of hope or peace in unexpected places. I pray for grace; that little gift from God that springs up and takes you by surprise. I can say, I only recall a few times in my life when I would realize this grace as it occurred and I suspect, times in my life, it was granted to me and I was completely oblivious to it, which seems such a shame.
The images keep going over and over in my brain. We had just laid Ariana to rest and her beautiful face contrasted with that forsaken morning just 2 weeks before is just so inconceivable- the female coroner stood in my living room as I emerged from the bedroom. My husband had woke me up and said the police were here. I remember her face so vividly- gray and unmoving she said, “Ariana had succumbed to her injuries…” My husband wailed and retreated to the bedroom and I sat without memory of what I said to her and the police officer who both sat at my dining room table at 4am in the morning. I only remember screaming for a long time later in those early morning hours. Our son came up the stairs and stood in the foyer; his face was so sleepy, alarmed, confused. I was so scared to utter the words and just hugged him for what seemed a long time. “Your sister was killed.” He is a child, no he is a young man; he is stronger than I give him credit for. I whispered in his ear and he understood. God forgive me but my son disappeared into the darkness of the morning and I was left alone; my husband was alone; we were all alone in our own despair. Where was Yasi, Ariana’s sister? That is a story for the archives.
In Pastor Brian’s message today he referred to Ariana’s burial day and said the words aloud to our guests, “Lord, why would you just let the rain pour down on this family?” It was a relentless torrent like the proverbial salt on the wound; a great wound that will never heal. Brian told the story of Mary and Martha waiting on Jesus because Lazarus was dying and he did die when Jesus finally showed to their home; but was way too late in his arrival to help this poor soul. Mary and Martha railed against him and instead of taking a godly stance of “Who do you think you are, I know what I’m doing” Jesus wept. I can’t help but ask if this is really what happened on this ugly day when we lowered our daughter into the ground? Did Jesus weep with us? Was Ariana a witness to her parents’ devastation and with that, did she unleash her anger that day? “I had a life!” her voice just echo’s in my head. Is that her screaming? Dear Jesus help me calm my mind; so help me God, what is real?
As I’m fixated on her burial day, I know there is a number of people waiting in the pews of the church today. Pastor Brian stands right next to me but his words are distant, “We’re ready to go.” My family and I get up and followed him out to the main sanctuary. I could see a mass of people but at the same time I could not make eye contact with anyone for fear of stumbling or breaking down. My brother Michael sits in the adjacent pew with HH, a family friend of 30 years. My brother the shepherd… he came for me and my family. Michael’s wife Laura needed to tend to their alpaca ranch in southern Texas. His presence for 24 hours was another angel’s feather that dropped before my feet that I consider God’s grace.