I love to escape, even if it’s just in my mind. When times get really tough, I imagine flying away to Bora Bora and living in a grass hut. When pragmatism overshadows fantasy, my mind gets in the car and drives and drives to the southern coast of California. Or if things ever get really bleak, I disappear with the purchase of a bus ticket or hop on a train (though train-hopping never really appealed to me). I’ve never actually run away. I’ve planned quite a few family vacations, because when it comes down to it, I want to see the world with my people. But, if I’m honest, my instinct for flight is strong.
Cancer ruined this though. Now when I indulge in the fantasy of escape, I take with me scars, numbness, actual cancer, a rational fear of death, guilt of leaving behind those who have had my back, baldness, and the list goes on. There is no escape. There’s no running away from my problems. Not even a dream of it. There’s no new reality that I can create or imagine that rescues me. There never really was. It makes me feel more grown up than ever.
My friend, Molly, knows a thing or two about grief that grows you up. We became friends, eight years ago, shortly after she gave birth to Felicity, still and beautiful and breathless. Our friendship is well-acquainted with grief. Along with so many in our community, we are stunned in our sadness as we are mourning the death of our friends’ daughter, a sweet 8-year-old girl named Anna. She was perfectly healthy. She just fell and hit her head. And this is within hours of learning that my friend’s mother’s breast cancer is growing aggressively despite treatment. (She was diagnosed earlier this year.) Wishing it would all stop, Molly texted me, “The ‘no-guarantees club’ has an ever-widening membership…” And as we grieved the arrival of more ‘members’, we asked questions that felt hopeless, but ultimately we landed on shaky feet of faith. Our hearts were dragging somewhere around our ankles. But, we have a God who bends low to comfort us. He offers real rescue, a great escape route through Jesus.
Jesus, who conquered death.
Jesus, who overcame the world.
Jesus, who will wipe away every tear.
Jesus, who will meet our souls in heaven.
That’s where my wildest fantasies end up now. In heaven with Jesus (and with my friends’ babies…). Because only He can make all this go away.