Ok so I’ve been soooo emotional lately. And not in the obvious way of thinking about the last 3 years of my abnormal life, but because of TV shows and a book! First I watched Dancing With The Stars most memorable year episode…cried. Then that same night I watched This Is Us…shed a few tears. And now I just finished a new (to me) book, like JUST finished, as in the salt from the tears are still dried on my cheeks. It was recommended to me months ago but I was told it was too soon after Quinlan’s passing to read then (which I now most definitely agree with). However, after being told by a couple more people that it’s time, I was ready, so I read it (Whoosh!)
The book is called “The Shack”. If you’ve heard of it and want to read it/watch the movie then I will warn you that there are some things from the book discussed below, however, not enough to give anything away. I will say that I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has lost someone, anyone who is the least bit spiritual, anyone who is looking for some sort of peace, or anyone who enjoys crying while reading. So, just about everyone. (I have not watched the movie yet, but have heard it’s just as good as the book. I will be watching soon!)
Disclaimer: I have never been a very religious person. I feel spiritual, I believe there is a higher power, but I have never been one to go to church consistently. Until Bear and I started dating, I never once prayed over a meal, and God was not something that was discussed very often at home. My friends and family are a beautiful mix of catholic, Christian, Episcopalian, Jewish and many others. Some go to church regularly, some used to, some never have. I will say that prayer has become a bigger part of my life over the last couple years, and faith is something I’m finding more important then I ever have before. Of course, this is all just how I feel and I know everyone is different. This is a judgment free blog.
Now, with all that being said, let’s talk about this book that is all about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s amazing. It’s amazing yet it’s about death. And not just any death, but the murder of a young girl (this is revealed in the beginning of the book so it’s not giving anything away). The rest of the book is about the father having a spiritual weekend with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and coming to terms with all that has happened. I can’t tell you how many feelings, words, and experiences this father had that I found myself nodding along to. I thought it would be harder to read then it was. It was actually quite comforting in a way I didn’t think possible, considering it’s about the loss of a child. But really, continue reading.
Mack, the father in the story, has many questions for God (who wouldn’t!). Many of the same questions I have. How could this happen? Why would you let this happen? What did I do wrong to deserve this for my child? There really aren’t any answers, none that I could explain in a blog, at least. But the way the book handled these questions brought peace to the horrible situation that is the death of a child (is that even possible?)
In the most emotional chapter (well, one of the few most emotional chapters), Mack was in a cavern when all of a sudden the walls disappeared and standing right before him was his daughter. She was playing by the lake with his other four children. She came close and although she couldn’t see him, she knew he was there, but he could see her. He longed for her. The feeling any parent who has lost a child has. That one more time to hug them and hold them. To memorize every inch of their face to keep in your memory forever. It was only in their dreams, that the other children would remember playing by a lake with their departed sister. How amazing would that be if every dream with your lost loved one, was an actually moment that they were having with you. You remember it only as a dream, but really it’s a gift. A gift of more time to be with your loved one, even if it’s just moments.
This book depicts that world to be a beautiful, colorful, place of peace. I can only hope that this is true. To know that Quinlan could be in a place of pure joy, with others who are reflecting nothing but positive energy and happiness is something I can only hope for. If the God, Jesus and Holy Spirit that are depicted in this book are even just a sliver of what spirituality in the afterlife is actually like, I have faith that Quinlan and all of our other friends and family members who have left us too soon are doing ok.
Needless to say, Mack changed as a result of this journey. He was an ordinary man who had a love/hate relationship with God, and an unfortunate family history. Living with what he called the “Great Sadness” after losing his daughter, he had many dark years, not unexpected. After finding peace and forgiveness through the lessons he learned that weekend, the “Great Sadness” had lifted. This is something I pray will happen in my life for everyone that I love, because I know there are many of us living with a “Great Sadness” at this very moment. By the end of the story, Mack was able to be emotional without being ashamed, as he once was. “Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak”. I’m in love with this quote. Sometimes tears are all you need, whether they are sad tears or happy tears, they are healers.
I hope this did not come across as a book review (I dreaded book reports growing up!) But instead words about a story that has touched me as I hope it does for others. It’s made me open my eyes to ideas, dreams, and spiritual aspects that I had never thought of before. It’s given me a perspective that can help in some moments of doubt, anger, and sadness. But, with that being said, the world of grief still sucks and it’s still hard. It will never be easy. However, to have the thought that this colorful world is now where our loved ones are existing is a thought I can live with.