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Reaching for normal and she’s not there

The day before we came back from our holiday at the beach, I caught myself thinking, “I can’t wait to get home to see Red Twin.”

Isn’t that weird? Red Twin is not part of our life in Dar. She’s never even been to our current house there. I did the house hunting for it in the very early days of grieving her.

But holidays are a liminal space – they’re between, off to the side, different from normal. That doesn’t make them unreal. Sometimes they’re more real than the everyday hustle and bustle where we fail to slow down and really experience life or give attention to important things. Holidays are powerful because they allow you to do and think and process and be in a way you can’t do in the normal.

But buried deep somewhere in my subconscious is the idea that when things go back to normal, Red Twin will be there.

Ultimately there’s a truth to this. When Jesus returns and the world is ultimately put right – the new, glorious normal – she will be there, together with us all in the new creation. But that’s a future day, a reunion, a consummation. Meanwhile, I was thinking about normal, as in, going back to how things were when we left for our holiday, coming back to that. And in my head, that normal has her in it because she never left. Not when I think logically about it, of course, but in my instincts if she’s not on the holiday with us, that’s because she’s back at home waiting. It’s a shock each time to remember that this isn’t the case.

Maybe this is especially so coming back from this holiday where I experienced what CMS calls critical incident. The way to take it from the liminal or the unreal, to integrate it into my life and my normal, is to talk about it. And it’s not real until I’ve told her. So not being able to share it with her makes me feel sad and tired and angry and shocked and lost all over again.

I first jotted down these thoughts sitting on a beach watching sand crabs. There were at least 4 different types as near as I could tell. Normally we use the word scuttle to describe what crabs do but these seemed to glide or hover or skate across the surface. There were so well camouflaged that I could only see them when they moved, which they only did a little at a time. If I took my eyes from one to another, I lost it. I knew there were hundreds on the beach but I could not count them, had no way of doing so. But God knows how many there are and not just that but the intricacies of each of their lives. This one digging a hole, that one chasing off another. What else is important to crabs? What else as they thinking about? He knows. And I thought, he also sees me, sitting on a remote beach in Africa, bewildered and teary because the world is not as it should be. He is there in the liminal and in the normal. And as he knows each crab, he knows me too.

Categories: Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

1 reply

  1. Dear Tam,

    It was really special to read this and also the critical incident link.

    Wow- what a huge journey – with many triggers I imagine.

    Feeling so much for you …..

    I cannot begin to imagine what the ongoing grief for tam is like for you – btu it would be a big pat of your life- well its always there ….

    And how to live with that …

    And the attack- oh dear tam…… how horrible …. and I imagine that bought back other things too….

    Its soooo hard to be so vulnerable – even when things end up moving forward.

    Taps into our vulnerable state before God- initially not comfortable but as we rest and trust ( a huge thing) there is relief and hope to keep walking in his strength.

    BTW Your writing for cross cultural understanding was great

    Yes – being busy distracts- its never easy to sit with the pain – and at your stage in life – there’s often not time…

    Thanks for sharing – Without taking away from the uniqueness of your journey- there’s a level I get it… and feel with you…

    Big big hug precious …….


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