I'll never forget the rest of that day, Dec. 24, 2009: the emails, the call, the snowy drive to the hospital, the packed waiting room, the hugs, the tears, the prayers. Oh, the prayers. Our Facebook feed was flooded with prayers and prayer requests for our friend. "Please, God. Please give us a Christmas miracle. Heal this man!"
He didn't—not in the way we so desperately wanted. So our prayers shifted. "Please, God. Please heal US!"
Slowly, very slowly, healing has come. There are so many of us who were blessed by this amazing man's life, so many who couldn't imagine a world without him in it, but through this year we have begun to walk the winding road to recovery. We have shared pictures and stories. We have tried to replace our bitter sadness over his death with gratitude for his life. More and more I can think of our friend and smile instead of wince, laugh instead of cry. Even though it was painful to be there in the months after the accident, the sound booth where we both worked now brings me solace as I remember our times there.
But I still can't stop the magical thinking.
In her book The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion writes about her experiences after her husband died. She talks of all the "magical thinking" she did that first year after his death. "If only I had done such-and-such, he wouldn't have died," or "If I clean out his closet, he might not come back to me." She KNEW he was gone, but she couldn't stop thinking that if she did something differently, maybe reality would change.
In spite of the healing, even after all the prayers, I still catch myself in that magical thinking. In my mind I KNOW our friend's not coming back to this world, but my heart can't completely let go. I can't delete the folder of his pictures from my desktop, and I won't take his number out of my phone. I added a note to him on the 2010 A/V schedule that's taped to the counter in the sound booth; it was unbearable to see that list of techs without his name. I think of questions for him or things I want to tell him all the time.
But mostly, I just miss him. And I know it's a million times worse for his family and closest friends.
This holiday season, I keep thinking of one line from a Christmas carol: "And tidings of comfort and joy." I know that the birth we celebrate at Christmas is the source of that joy. It's because of Jesus that we can be happy for our friend, knowing that he now lives without sadness and feels no pain. The events of last Christmas Eve plunged us into darkness, but Jesus is the light of the world. Because of Him, we know where our friend is. We know he's experiencing inexplicable joy, and we'll get to join him someday.
But until that day, I'm going to need some help with the comfort part.
From 2 Corinthans 1:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Thank You, Father, for seeing us through this year. Please give an extra portion of Your extraordinary peace to Amy, Samantha and all of us as we continue to grieve and heal. And thank You, thank You, thank You for the life of Tim Head. Amen.
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