Tender Mercies are something that I have realized are my only little life rafts I have to cling to in this storm of destruction. When my mother was in the hospital a year ago recovering from sepsis, I brought her a coloring book. She made me a little poster with a tea-cup and a part of a verse across it out of the book of Lamentations 22-23 that says “His mercies are new every morning”. I have it on my kitchen wall and it was nagging at me. I started noticing a pattern in my moods of grief and loss and when I focus on what I could have done differently, and go down different rabbit holes of would have, could have and should have, I find the pattern always leads to despair, regret and guilt. I noticed a few weeks ago, that almost every day, I was getting little gifts of light and love in my days. I could almost come up with something every day that brought me a moment of thankfulness if I looked for it. When I looked for something positive in my day, it took the edge off the pain and deep sadness that haunts every moment I am awake. Ever since I could remember, back since I lost my daughter, there has been something, usually from a friend or co-worker. I started thinking of these gifts as my tender mercies.
The ones that stand out at first are the obvious ones, someone sent a book, someone came and cleaned my house, someone handmade my family a bag of breakfast burritos, a plant on Mother’s Day, prayer shawls, a hand quilted blanket. It has been over 4 months of crying ever day, of trying to be everything I am supposed to be while healing and moving forward with a deep hole in my chest. I feel like a wounded sergeant leading his troop through a mission in a mine field while limping and staggering on.
I noticed they are still coming though, these little things, it has now become a game to find one, maybe two, something about the day that gave my soul a little hug, something that was unexpected and uplifting. I’m not good at remembering to do anything on a regular daily basis. The only thing I remember to do daily is brush my teeth. I forget to take daily medicines, I forget to do daily stretches, I forget to floss daily, but I am trying to remember to do this every day. I have started to try to write them down daily if possible or I at least look for them mentally throughout the day. Today was a difficult day. I wondered if I could find anything positive at first. My family and I are easily agitated at each other and sometimes we say things to each other that are hurtful, we are volatile, sensitive, and hurting. It is hard to know how others around you are hurting and not know how to heal them when you are also hurting. That was the case for me today anyway. My tender mercies for this day are simple, a book sent to me a month ago from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention that had some actual helpful tips, my daughter’s cat Tonks sitting for hours in my lap snuggling, an invite to lunch from a fellow survivor for Thursday. In the last few days there was a dinner sent to me from a co-worker, a beautiful blue heron standing gracefully by my daughter’s memorial bench, a friend sending me a text in the middle of the night with a long message of hope and love, at the moment I needed it, a song my daughter’s friend has made for her sent to me, and so on. There have been new mercies every day. I hunt for them in the rubble and darkness of sadness. One of my mercies from God the other day was a story I heard from a man that was mourning the loss of his brother from disease. On a long walk he wandered into a church. He saw his brother’s face as one of the children in the mural painted on the wall with Jesus as the light shined through the stained glass at dusk in a foreign city. It doesn’t matter if the image was placed in his mind by God or what the image was or if anyone else saw it or believes him. It was what he saw and that was a blessing from God to him to give him peace that he needed and he turned around and freely shared his story. His story now gives me a sense of peace and hope. These blessings do not stop me from missing my daughter insanely or from falling into pits of sadness, but what looking for these little tender mercies daily or even hourly and then writing them down does provide a way out of the darkness of that moment and gives me something to be thankful for. Lastly, the best gift was one reader who said my blog is helping her. If only one reader feels a little less pain, then I will continue to write and become her tender mercy for her day.