Isn’t She Lovely
You know how a song can take you right back to a place or memory in such a tangible way that your emotions stir up everything you felt then?
“Isn’t She Lovely?” by Stevie Wonder does that for me. Even now, more than two years later, I can feel the tears pushing at the outer edges of my eyes begging to meet my cheeks like they did that day. Now, I don’t let them. I’m at a coffee shop, not in my car by myself on the long drive to Denver.
I was headed to a meeting then. A meeting where no one knew what was going on, what I felt inside … what I had inside. I was pregnant.
A sweet, precious, lovely baby nestled in my womb. But, for how long? At the time, I didn’t know. In the weeks before that drive, I’d been told that my baby would not live. That if he or she made it to delivery, getting two hours together was the best-case scenario.
I sobbed as the lyrics played:
I can’t believe what God has done
Through us, He’s given life to one
But isn’t she lovely made from love?
And then the darling giggles of Stevie Wonder’s daughter play during what sounds like bath time. That is how it’s supposed to be. Those were the sounds I should have been looking forward to … bath-time giggles, not cries before saying goodbye.
“I did have a mother choose to carry her baby to birth so she could hear him cry; that was important for her,” one of the doctors had said. “She got two hours.” That’s what I get to look forward to? Getting to hear my baby cry for a couple hours before leaving this earth?
I remembered the doctor’s words, listened to the song, sobbed more and then began stifling the cries, the pain, the suffering. I had a meeting; I had to be okay.
“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac is another song that triggers emotion for me. It’s not associated with a specific memory; it’s just one of very few songs, like Coldplay’s “Fix You,” that somehow captures the depth of sorrow, love, loss and true pain in a way that makes it feel like the music’s composition encompasses you in the most understanding hug. It’s dependably deep, painful and beautiful, and it will simply be with you as you cry.
Today, “Landslide” carries me through a different painful reality that swells my eyes with other tears. Tears of tragic, sudden, inexplicable, inconsolable loss. The loss from when “everything” happened.
That’s what I call it … “everything.” I always say before “everything” happened … Or, and then “everything” happened. Maybe because losing Zac changed everything and maybe because I don’t want to say the words, “losing Zac.”
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
I listen and cry. I want to float on my back down a slow-moving river with “Landslide” and then “Fix You” playing in the atmosphere, so I can cry, and each tear will meld with the water around me as tears hold me afloat and each strum of the guitar caresses my heart.
And here, still, I will not offer you resolution. I feel that we are often too quick to push for resolution. We think someone should show progress, should be improving, should be doing okay with enough time. Can we not instead simply let someone sit in sackcloth and ashes and just cry?
Can we let them feel the depth of abandonment and loss that Jesus felt in that moment on the cross? Can you let me feel abandoned, distraught, broken, deserted?
Jesus cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Other versions say: “why have you abandoned me?”; “why have you left me?”; “why have you deserted me?”
“My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?” Merriam Webster defines desert as: “to quit one’s post, allegiance, or service without leave or justification.” Leaving without justification; I can tell you that my family has been left without justification for why “everything” happened.
According to the Oxford dictionary, justification is “the action of showing something to be right or reasonable.”
In that moment on the cross, Jesus felt. He felt that God had abandoned Him. Reality or not, truly abandoned or not, He experienced the human emotion and feeling of being deserted by God, abandoned by Him without justification, left without anything to show that what’s happened or is happening is right or reasonable.
And, in Jesus’ case, He did know the why; He had the justification; He knew why He was on that cross, and He had agreed to go to it.
So, even Jesus, knowing the WHY of what He was suffering still experienced a human moment feeling abandoned by God. If Jesus can feel that, and He knows the why, then we can definitely feel that pain and abandonment not knowing the why.
I don’t have resolution for you. If anything, I have more songs that connect to pain. I could tell you about “Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver that we played over and over as my grandma lay unresponsive on the hospital bed after a severe stroke, and days later we played at her memorial service.
Or, “Closer Than You Know,” by Hillsong UNITED, a song that I’d never heard until “everything” happened and now struggle to listen to because it was a song Zac listened to a lot. We found it in a playlist on his phone of the top 25 songs he listened to most. Songs about Christ’s love and goodness. Beautiful, beautiful songs.
Or, I could tell you about “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry and how my brother would sing out that song at the top of his lungs with such passion and genuineness because that is what he deeply desired for himself and for everyone around him – to be loved unconditionally. He could sing these lyrics or say these words to a stranger suffering in sin and MEAN it:
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally
Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy
So, I won’t end this blog with a positive spin or promise that “everything” will be okay; because “everything” will not be okay. Rather, for now, I want to simply sit in the tears. And if you need to cry, too, then may I reach from afar and hold you, sit with you, quietly be with you.