March 28, 2008

grief envy

C.S. Lewis once said, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" (A Grief Observed).

No one ever told me that grief felt so like envy.

I find myself envious of so much. I am even envious of the grief of others. I look at other people who have suddenly lost loved ones and I wish to be in their shoes. Of course, when I talk with them they wish to be in mine. 

I despise my situation because I had to watch cancer slowly take life away from my parents. It was a slow agonizing process to watch my parents grow weaker and weaker. I just wish they maintained their health and died suddenly without having to watch them suffer. However, others who have suddenly lost loved ones expressed envy of my experience because I was able to say goodbye to my parents and be with them as they suffered and died.

My grief envy has a history. At this point, nearly half of my life has been spent with a sick parent. My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15 years old. I was unaware of my envy at the time, but I was envious of others whose family still had their health. My life became defined in many ways by my dad's sickness. I could not talk with many people without them asking how he was doing. They should've asked and I appreciated them asking. Nonetheless, I wanted a life without that concern constantly following me around. I wanted a life without the constant anticipation of my dad growing weaker and weaker. I was there with my dad when his body began to fail him. I was glad to be with him. It was a "holy" experience being with him as he entered his eternal rest. However, it was also a "horrible" experience at the same time as I finally watched the life God gave him come to an end on this earth.

My grief envy did not have a moment to subside because in less than two months my mom found herself in an even weaker state than my dad (upon diagnosis) as cancer quickly began to take her life away. I had to watch the same process happen all over again only in a different person, my other parent. The rightful concern of others surrounded me and I wanted a life without it. My grief envy steeped even lower. I was envious now of those who still had one healthy parent. I went through the very same holy and horrible experience with my mom as her body began to fail her.

Now, my grief envy enters a phase where I am envious of those who can watch their parents enjoy their grandchildren.

All of my grief envy has roots. The reality is that nearly half of my life I have felt too weak, too vulnerable, and too exposed as a result of the sickness and death of my parents. I want a life full of strength and health. Yet, this does not seem to be part of my story. Weakness and vulnerability will constantly follow me for the rest of my days as a result of the sickness and death of my parents. 

Thankfully, the grace of God follows fast after weakness and vulnerability and turns my grief envy in this life into hope for the life to come.