I awoke in Sedona to the most beautiful camping back drop on Thursday morning. It was a wonderful surprise after arriving after dark (after watching the sunset at the Grand Canyon).
Last time Josh and I wound our way down the curvy road into Sedona, I told him I wanted to camp here, so I was pretty stuck on making this happen. Doing so felt somewhat satisfying. Even funnier, to me, is that I ended up setting up my tent in the dark which was one of Josh’s camping rules.
The next morning, Josh's brother, Gabe and his wife Julie, who were in Phoenix for a conference made their way to Sedona for a hike. We soon found each other and set off on more explorations together. It was a joyful day of exploring and hanging out, conversations about Josh and by the time I got back to my hotel for the night, I completely crashed and basically slept for like 10 hours after watching the sunset from my hotel room window - glorious! I guess all the traveling, hiking and emotions of the day (or days) finally hit me and the dogs.
Another great highlight of this day was eating at a restaurant, The Mariposa Grill, that Josh and I stumbled on in Sedona. It’s one of my favorite memories from two summer's ago of us driving up in our very dirty car, full of all our stuff to valet park. We then ate the best meal looking like hobos as the sun set over the red cliffs. Humorously, this visit, I still didn't look great after camping overnight and hiking and new memories were made with my sister -in-law in the same location.
The memories both old and new are sweet and still bittersweet. I expect many of these memories and even new ventures will continue to feel the same. Day by day I continue forward knowing God's mercies surround me. Lamentations seems fitting:
"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23
The beauty of the sunset at the Grand Canyon can be a real tear-jerker on any day but especially in a season of loss. On the way, there happened to be a McAllister’s where I stopped to get a sweet tea in honor of Josh and I arrived 20 minutes before sunset. It was kind of a spontaneous detour on my way to Sedona and so worth it.
As the sky filled with shades or orange, blue and yellow, I thought how saying goodbye to this day also represented saying goodbye to Josh many days ago. I said to the sky, “goodnight my love” but don’t expect these words to be heard. These are more for me than him but they feel good still.
Josh and I visited the Grand Canyon a few times, with friends, just us, on mission trips. We once even woke early with our friends the Nelson’s and read God’s Word by sunrise. All of these memories fill my mind.
Each day my grief goes up and down, there are tears, smiles, laughter, sorrow and contentment. It really does feel like my traveling adventures going up and down hills and valleys. Sometimes these adventures are a welcome distraction, other times they remind me how much I miss Josh.
Through it all, God continues to provide hope and confidence for my own future as I ask for clarity in what is next on this journey. It’s not easy, and I will
keep saying this, it’s a process.
Today, this verse is echoing in my mind.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
Hebrews 10:36 NASB
There I sat in the hotel lobby, next to the fireplace, eating my waffle I had just made at the free continental breakfast when I became acutely aware of the background music: Jack Johnson’s, “Better Together.”
I already felt a vulnerable sitting on the couch alone, trying to distance myself from the crowded dining hall filled with families, so the song just added a dagger in my heart.
Here I was, trying to stay cool and collected, while enjoying the oversized fireplace. Instead, I ended up more quickly eating my waffle and blinking a lot so I wouldn’t be the crying girl on the couch. I guess if it turned into that, the conversation could be interesting but still not my goal for the morning.
It’s hard to prepare for grief or even what to expect in the process. There are times when I should expect the emotions rise up more and other times of surprise emotions that appear when least expected. This morning was the surprise kind.
Currently, I can easily say life was better when Josh and I were together, but only focusing on this can keep me stuck and I know God has more for me. Thinking more on the idea of better, the first part of Psalm 84:10 comes to mind.
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”
One day in God’s court is better than any I could ever have or imagine with Josh. This understanding doesn’t take away the hurt of Josh not being here but it does help shift my gaze a little.
Maybe today, instead of only dwelling on the words of Jack Johnson’s Better Together, I will instead listen to Better is One Day by Matt Redman. Both will probably make me cry for the same and different reasons.
Sidebar: Saying things like “they are in a better place” to someone grieving doesn’t help. While there is truth in it, we still want them here with us, fully healthy. Another thing to say is “tell me what you miss most.”
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.