We live on a mountain between two valleys. The trees on the east side of the mountain are cleared just enough to give us a view of the valley east all the way across to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s gorgeous. But the valley on the west side can only be partially seen when all of the leaves die and fall from the trees. Then we can see the sunset.
As I walk this new path after my mom’s recent death, I’m struck how the “valley of the shadow of death” seems to be on both sides of the mountain. It’s the mountain that casts the shadow. The mountain is death.
I’d always imagined approaching the mountain from the valley would be the most daunting. Death is unnatural and frightful. The surprising thing was how in the middle of the fear and sadness, I had so much peace and even joy at times. God was with me, and I wasn’t afraid of the shadow.
Now I am on the other side of Mom’s death, and there’s another shadow as I journey away from death and through another valley. Life without my mom is foreign. Some days it is daunting. The shadow of grief can be so dark.
But I will fear no evil, because my God is with me.
I’ve been thinking about my blog and how it is mostly just about my life, joys and trials, and sharing it with you in the hope that you might be encouraged or maybe feel less alone.
A favorite line of mine is from the movie Shadowlands when a student of C.S. Lewis tells him "We read to know we are not alone." I love that! It's so true. With every major life event, I have scoured my bookshelves, the Internet, and bookstores to find someone who has been here before and who can offer me some wisdom for the road.
And that's why I write . . so others might read and know they too aren't alone.
Why “Letters from the Valley"? Because that is where I am. This unexpected season has fallen like a spring snowstorm. I'm realizing day by day that I don't get to say when this season ends. And honestly, it's not near as morbid as it sounds. It's not morbid at all. It's unlike anything I've ever known. It's deep and confusing sorrow right in the middle and in between laughter and life. It's heavy enough to make me want to stay in bed forever some mornings and other days it seems like it's gone. Until it returns, unexpectedly and knocks me on my butt and into a puddle of tears. It's grief.
I know many won't be interested in this series, and that's fine. A year ago, before Mom's cancer diagnosis, I wouldn't have been interested either. After her diagnosis, I might have been willing to peek in once in awhile as I was gradually accepting the reality of life with the possibility of death impending. A month ago, I would have read every word as we brought my mom home for hospice care before she died four days later.
This valley journey is one I didn't plan, but it's one I'm willing to share. I hope some of you who are farther along this road might share your experience and wisdom (you can comment here or on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). If you're just starting this journey, I hope you're comforted by not going it alone. And if you're wise and brave and willing to acknowledge that it's a path we will all inevitably walk, I pray somehow sharing my story will equip you when the time comes for you to walk this valley.
So I’ll be writing off and on about this journey for awhile. It’s fitting really, the autumn is bringing death all around us. The oddest thing is how surprisingly beautiful it can be.