I was laying in bed, after another long day, when he walked in buttoning up a shirt; a shirt I recognized. “It’s the only one that fit, mom,” he said to me as he finished buttoning. Colton had finally found the strength to try a few of Grant’s things on, things he thought he might want to wear. And then he said to me, as I was trying to get my head around Colton standing there in Grant’s shirt, “Mom, it smells like, Grant,” and looked at me as if he knew…he knew I would want to smell it, take in that aroma, the scent of my son lost.
I jumped up off of the bed and fell into his arms, and breathed in with all of my might. I wanted to fill my lungs, my senses, with that smell. I bawled, as Colton held me, just letting me breathe it all in. And Colton was right. The shirt did smell like Grant, his earthly scent, his cologne, his deodorant. It was as if he were in the room, and I was desperately trying to inhale it all in. I was undone with the fragrance of Grant; we wept together as we stood there taking in his aroma.
Laying back down on the bed, drying my eyes, I realize there are going to be hundreds of moments like this for the rest of my life. It might be a smell, a certain food, something someone says, a mountain off in the distance, a unique angle on a building, 3 instead of 4 stockings on the mantle. The list is endless and it will take a lifetime to compile it. On countless occasions, I will instantly be in a place of sadness, longing, heartache, despair, when something reminds me of our loss. I am aware today, in a profound way, that losing Grant is either going to make me bitter, or make me better. It seems like a contrite little thing to say, something you might see on a poster at a Christian book store. But it’s true, and I feel the weight of that truth laying here in bed.
Daily reminders that rip off the healing bandaid, and pour salt into my wound, are going to make me bitter or better, there’s no denying that fact. I can feel them battling for supremacy right now. So how do I ensure this makes me better, and not bitter. Oh, Lord, protect me from bitterness!
Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
Bitterness is a root, not a symptom. Roots lay underneath the surface, away from prying eyes, giving life to the plant and determine what kind of fruit it will bear. The same is true with bitterness in a person’s soul. It is a hidden element that lies under the surface, and out of it will spring up anger, apathy towards God, distrust of His goodness, a joyless life, inability to “obtain the grace of God.” It will defile me, and the many that come in contact with me. Allowing Grant’s passing, to grow a root of bitterness in my soul, would make his death even worse. There would be two deaths, his and mine; his earthly death, and the death of my soul walking around in a body of flesh. No, bitterness must not take root!
In order for this to “make me better” I MUST trust God. I must trust His infinite wisdom, trust His sovereign plan, for my life, for Grant’s life. I must trust that He is working all things together for good. I must trust that He knows best. And I must trust that my limited understanding of these things is not a necessary part of the equation. I can choose to trust God, and believe these things, even when I don’t understand or fail to see the wisdom in them now. I can choose to believe, even when my heart is breaking. And I must, I will, lest I become bitter and defile Grant’s memory, my life, the lives of those I love, and my Savior. No, I choose to trust today, even when the only thing left, is the aroma of things lost.