I say to Callum as we leave our weekly family dinner, “Say good bye to Pop,” and he hides his face in my leg. It’s too hard.
A day later, his craft cat mask is ruined thanks to a brotherly dispute, and he agrees it’s time for it to go in the bin. “Bye bye cat mask,” Arthur says. There is a wail from Callum, long tears follow. Goodbyes fill his life, small and large.
He comes to me and says, “Mama, I have a sad feeling. It’s Auntie Red Twin.” Our current deluge of goodbyes remind us all of another goodbye.
During our time in Australia lots have people have asked me if grief is different here. It is. Our life in Tanzania is in many ways distinct from Red Twin. Arthur and I forged it together; it belongs to us with our boys. Red Twin visited us in both Dodoma and Dar, but part of the appeal for her was that it was not her world. However in Australia, so much of life was made with her, so many of my relationships are with people who also miss her. That’s been a heaviness on our time in Australia. But to leave it does not feel like a relief. It feels like another displacement.
I’ve been listening to the longing in Andrew Peterson’s Maybe Next Year and finding it echoes my own.
… To that city that we long for, that we feel so far away
Where the dawn will drive away our tears
And we’ll meet in the New Jerusalem someday
I went to my church’s Blue Christmas service this year. One thing the speaker said that stuck with me was that God is not waiting for us to ‘get over it’. It’s not just that He patiently bears with us while we are sad or angry; He chooses to feel that with us. Hearing that healed something in me.
I thought of our Father’s house which has many rooms, how Jesus has prepared them in advance. I picture an apartment building, and Jesus showing me to my door as I arrive, and me noticing that it is right next door to Red Twin’s. I want to open it right away, but I hesitate: I mean, this is Jesus I’m seeing. Shouldn’t that reunion matter more than anything else? Of course He sees me glance at the door. He knows. And He is only kind. After all, He’s been waiting for this too. The building is his design, just as it was His to make us twins in the first place. He turns the handle and opens the door inwards, and Red Twin throws her arms around my neck. And He is delighted; what was torn asunder has been healed.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.