Written by guest blogger Karly Alexandra Smith.
Karly’s mom, my niece Becky, succumbed to a brain tumor last April. Poignantly and personally, Karly writes of her journey through mourning. I think you will find it strengthening and hopeful.
I couldn’t help but smile. Fireworks will do that.
We stood on the dark driveway craning our necks and watching sprigs of sparks rise and fall against the black, overcast sky above us. We sang the words, words we hardly understand, apart from that one line: “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,” which is loaded with our longing. All of us long for a kind year, a kind life. That isn’t always what we get.
New Year’s eve is considered a festival, an event that acts like a doorway into something new. To mark the passing of time, which we cannot stop and cannot control. We can only nod, dance, and celebrate as it moves steadily on. But we don’t always feel like celebrating.
I understand now why in older times, those who were in mourning wore black and did not attend parties. In this year of mourning, I have not felt like being a peppy party-goer, a merry-maker, no. I walk with invisible weights through mud and up mountains no one can see. There has been loss from death, from hurt, from change, and I am weary. So weary. Being at a party felt strange, like being an alien among familiar faces, a ghost of who I was last year.
The ball dropped, we made our toasts, but the new year felt the same as the old: dark and heavy. Until we went outside. I don’t know why those wild booms of blooms, which burst overhead, tapping us on the head with ash, spoke so clearly, but they did. They wrote in fizzing gold and dashes of white and red, the Lord can do it. And he is kind. It will be in his time.
What it is, I don’t yet know. I don’t feel hopeful. But I am holding hope, a spark of it, hope that I will yet taste the goodness of the Lord in this weary wilderness. That I will blaze again. That a New Year’s Eve party is not wasted because I am not merry or bright.
This was the evening for dissonance and sorrow. There will be an evening, perhaps many, for merriment again.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
“What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” From Ecclesiastes 3
May this new year come quietly, beautifully, in whatever time the Lord has for you.
Karly Alexandra Smith is a lover of letters: reading and writing them. She writes, makes art, and teaches (subjects ranging anywhere from writing, design thinking, and the Bible).
Find more of her writing at karlyalexandra.com