Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Hole In My Heart

Today is the funeral for Sandee's mother. As, I am sure you understand, the recent past has been very difficult and painful for Sandee and her family. As her mother's mental and physical health deteriorated over the past couple years, she became more dependent upon external help for daily needs. Tara, Sandee's sister from Dallas, came several times to help for a week at a time. This would give Sandee somewhat of a physical and emotional break. But, for the most part, Sandee's dad and Sandee cared for her mother on a daily basis.

Sandee and her mother were very close and she has very fond memories that now become even more special and valuable. Recently, Sandee told me that her mom was the only "constant" throughout her life. Right now, she does not know how she will make it without her mother around. She tells me that, "I have a hole in my heart."

My nature is to try to fix things. This is not something I can fix. I can hold her, wipe away her tears and try to comfort her the best that I can. I will take her away for a few days for a break, but I cannot heal the hole in her heart.

I believe that God gave me an illustration for her. A couple days ago, as she was telling me how much it hurts, all of a sudden I had a thought that I wanted to share with her. It took her by the hand and led her outside and down into the front yard where I had planted some aspen trees a couple years ago.

This past spring, elk ate some of the leaves and chewed off some of the bark from the trunk of one of the trees. In one spot, the bark is missing half way around the tree. Aspen trees send nourishment from the roots to the tree through the bark. If an elk eats all the way around the trunk, it is called "girdling", and it will kill the tree. On this tree, there is a large hole in the bark, the tree still lives, but it is damaged. The edges of the hole are jagged and have not changed much in the past few months.

On the next tree, there is another hole in the bark. This hole was from damage done to the tree at some time prior to me getting the tree and it has been in the healing process for several years. Though you can tell that the hole began as fairly large, it is now much smaller. The edges are smooth and have been growing back towards the center as the hole is being healed. The tree will never fully recover from the damage done and the evidence of the hole will always be there, but it is getting better and the healing is progressing.

I showed this to Sandee and told her that the fresh hole is like the hole in her heart. It is raw, jagged, damaged, and it hurts a lot. Gradually, it will begin to heal. It will loose some of the painful, jagged edges and the size of the hole will grow smaller. It will begin to feel better, with a lot of time, but it will never go away, completely. There will always be sign of the hole and some pain will always exist, but, it is survivable. Your heart has not been girdled and it will recover.

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