Oct 5,2016 A bitter taste

Hello My Love,

I noticed last week that I haven’t been writing in my journal as much. I’m not sure why, I always feel a little bit closer to you when I’m writing. I never really run out of things to write either. But these last few weeks have been different. I’ve been more discouraged, about everything, than I’ve ever been in my life.  There was even a time when I thought, “What’s the point of writing?! It’s not like I’ll be able to…”.  I’m sorry, that was hard for me to even write, but that last bit truly reflects the conflict within me. The negative thoughts, the doubts, they are not sought out, they are thrown like fiery spears at anything I seem to find comforting.

The grief is not getting any easier either.

Last week, after a tough ride home, I got out of the car and started towards the house.  I got a few steps from the car and just stopped.  I looked at the wet driveway, the soaked grass, the grey and cloudy skies. I could feel the cool drizzle that was being carried around by the breeze on my face. What a crazy day to play basketball, right? The weather, it was exactly like the day we decided to play basketball in the driveway last fall. It felt as if that memory was playing on some projector and I walked right into it and froze. I drank in every detail of that memory, but it had a bitter taste.

At times, I find my mind flooded with memories and thoughts of you, but my attempts to remember YOU in every perfect detail are becoming more difficult as time passes. I hope for the day when all of these pictures and videos of you will help me remember those details and remind me of all the joy you have brought to my life. Right now, unfortunately, they are far too painful…

I feel as if we are worlds apart. Life with you –the memory of it- feels like a wonderful dream I have been woken up from. I desperately want to return… How long will this last? How long must I suffer memories in place of a loving embrace?

The path of sorrow, and that path alone
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown:
No traveller ever reached that blessed abode,
Who found not thorns and briers in his road.

-William Cowper

I thought about this quote a lot over the last few days.  Why is “suffering” necessary? Maybe “necessary” is the wrong way to look at it, maybe “inevitable” is more accurate.  CS Lewis puts it this way: “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself”

Or, even better, in the words of our gracious Savior: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 my emphasis added)  There is no misunderstanding that. But why this way? Why me? Why you? I don’t know, maybe I never will. Anyways, the “whys” are as unfruitful now as they were eight months ago and they’ll always be that way.

Or, maybe “necessary” is the right way of looking at it? I wonder if I would have ever been able to truly appreciate what was done at the Cross had I never experienced any kind of suffering in my own life. Would something good have ever caused me to seek out the LORD so earnestly? If I lived a pain free life, would I ever be brought to my knees and cry out, “LORD, Please have mercy on me!”  Could I have really been saved before I fully understood what it was to NEED saving?

To an extent, I suppose those questions are similar to the “why” questions.  This did happen. I am suffering. I’ll continue to suffer. I do understand that I have “been bought with a price”. I am in desperate need of a savior. I have earnestly sought after the LORD for the last eight months and I know this verse to be true: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

And even having said all that, Clare-Bear, I still don’t know how I’m going to get through all this. The grief is just plain overpowering at times. And the holidays are coming up…I don’t even want to think about that, but it is inevitable. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I can.  Mommy and I did manage to get a crib together for your sister’s room and our friend got us a pretty lamp for the nursery. I’m surprised we’ve gotten that far. Sissy’s been pretty busy with Theater, SAT’s, ACT’s, school trips…you name it. I hope you get an opportunity to watch over her, I don’t get to see her as much during these busy times.

I found this poem by William Cowper while looking for the above quote. I also found, and read through a short biography.  It’s a remarkably sad story, but his suffering came to an end. So will mine.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

-William Cowper

With all my love,

Daddy

Luke Phillips Katy Phillips Clara Phillips
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8 thoughts on “Oct 5,2016 A bitter taste

  1. Emily Mleko

    I think of you and Katy often. I look at sweet Clara’s face on the card you all sent with her picture and pray for you both! I can imagine the pain never gets better. I want to say congratulations on the new baby! I am so happy for you both and I can imagine Clara is smiling down from heaven.

    Liked by 2 people

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  2. C

    I really like the Jeremiah verse – there’s so much conviction and certainty in it that I hope brings you some comfort. And though you may never know the answers to your whys, I do believe that in time, you will find peace. Please don’t give up on your writing! Even if you just keep with your private journal and step back from this blog, I think of it as actual conversations with Clara. Your writing is such a beautiful gift and I picture her hanging on every word, the way we all do when you post.

    Always remember that she is with you and Katy, in your thoughts, in your hearts and in your memories – even if they’re beginning to lose some details. She will never be forgotten. And when you’re ready, you’ll watch the videos and they’ll remind you of the luckiest and most loved little girl in the world 🙂

    (((hugs)))

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  3. Beth

    Luke,
    Your courage and clarity in this writing to Clara is beyond moving to me. Your faith and seeking during grief is impressive to say the least, when you could simply turn away. The Lord is moving you to continue, even when you are overwhelmed by the pain of your journey without Clara. I pray for you regularly. As I have said before, your beautiful girl has such a radiance about her, as I look at the pictures here on your blog. Continue to put one foot in front of the other and ask, seek, knock for His direction, understanding and Supernatural comfort. Congratulations to you and Katy on expecting a beautiful new daughter. She will be a blessing and a reminder of the love you have to give.
    Beth C.

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  4. BarbaraH

    Luke, this was beautiful. I love how you write to Clara in heaven. I believe that Clara and God have sent you another little girl to cherish and love as much as you love Clara. The new little one will always have her big sister as her Angel in heaven. Praying for you and Katy.

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  5. Elaine

    I have read your latest letter to Clara over and over. I have no words to comfort you and Katy. I pray for you both every day. Your letters to her are so beautiful. Your love for the Lord is very evident. I am praying for you to have peace in your heart and that this little baby who will be here soon will bring peace and joy to you both. I don’t doubt that Clara asked God to send a new little one to you. I don’t think we will ever understand why some things happen the way they do, all I know is we have to keep trusting God for everything. I am so sorry you are going through all of this. Just remember there are so many people who lift you and Katy up to the Lord. We will stand in the gap for you when you feel too weary to go on. Keep writing to Clara. God bless you!!!

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  6. Xylopika

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    He Was Grieving Over The Death Of His Best Friend, Until An Old Man Told Him THIS. Mind Blown.
    POSTED 1 YR 112 COMMENTS

    From the depths of old internet comments comes another incredible gem of a story. One user wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

    “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

    The rest of the post has been deleted, only the title remains. However, the helpful responses live on, and one of them was absolutely incredible. The reply by this self-titled “old guy” might just change the way you approach life and death.

    I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.

    I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents…

    I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

    Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

    As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

    In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

    Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

    Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.

    If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

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