A Year has Come and Gone
How is it that a year has now come and gone since I lost my brother, Logan. We were blessed to be able to go back to the States almost immediately after his passing. God allowed us 9 months there to grieve, to begin the healing process, to be with family and friends, to reconnect with partners and partnering churches. We really could not have asked for more.
We’ve now been back in Tanzania for about 3 months. As I mentioned in my last post, coming back has been hard. Memories of losing Logan have often flooded my mind. And the sting of being so far from family has felt unnatural. But here we are. I recently heard that grieving never really ends, it just changes. And then sometimes you feel you are back at the beginning. Especially on anniversaries of losing your loved one or birthdays and holidays.
This past week our family was hit with three whammies. August 20th was the day Logan passed away. August 23rd was his birthday. And then August 25th was the day his headstone was finally brought and placed at his grave. Yikes. Talk about an emotionally draining time. And now I am learning to grieve through all these things in another country and another culture.
I was telling a neighbor that this past Tuesday marked 1 year from losing my brother. She asked me what I did to remember him. I told her how I listened to music that made me think of him, cried a lot, watched a movie he like (Lord of the Rings) and how I painted (I’ll come back to this one). She then told me how here in Tanzania when they reach an anniversary of losing a loved one they usually prepare food and invite close friends and family to come and be with them. I thought about how very different that is from my culture, and really from my preference. When I am grieving deeply, I much prefer to be alone.
Back to the Painting
I wanted to try to do something that Logan would have enjoyed that day. Logan was really artistic. He was an amazing poet and tried his hand at many things throughout the years. I decided I wanted to try to paint something in memory of him. Back when we were younger, we always talked about how we would travel the world together. You see, Logan was convinced I would grow up to be an old maid. That was even one of his nicknames for me! Well, he was wrong, but I still would have gladly traveled anywhere with him. The place he talked of most was New Zealand. I recently looked up some pictures online and I was amazed at the beauty of this country. As I looked at picture after picture sadness filled my heart that we never made it. I saved a few pictures that I thought maybe I could try to paint, but one stuck out to me. So I tried. And this was what I came up with.
I was honestly surprised that my painting came out half-way decent. I like to think of it as God’s grace on a really hard day, as I’ve never really painted much before. It was healing for me in some ways…made me just plain sad in others. But now I have this scene in my living room as a constant reminder of Logan and the dreams we shared as kids. I do find comfort in the fact that he’s experiencing the most breathtaking views of all in Heaven.
A Letter to Logan on His Birthday
You would have been 26 today. Oh how I wish I could celebrate with you. But you’re not here. It still stings. The pain is still so raw. So fresh. Even after a year of losing you I am still trying to make sense of it all. But I guess reality is, I can’t.
Oh I hope you knew how very loved and cherished you were, and will always be.
We are back here in Tanzania. The place we learned of your death and where your first birthday passed without you here with us. I think last year we were still in shock as your birthday was just days after you died. We were frantically trying to make plans to go home. But this year. This year hurts worse. I feel the void of your presence, even though in these latter years we were oceans apart. It’s also hard being so very far from family. It’s hard to grieve your loss without them.
Oh Log. What I would give for one more day with you. On the anniversary of your passing I painted a scene of New Zealand. I now see it each day and wonder what it would have been like to see those glorious mountains and lakes together. I can only dream now.
Truth is, you are healed and whole now. Restored. But selfishly, I wish that could have happened on this earth.
I don’t know what God is doing in the midst of all this pain and sorrow. I know He won’t waste it, oh but it hurts, especially on a day like today. To be honest, He feels a little far right now. I’m sure it’s me, not Him. One thing I’ve learned through all of this is that He is patient with me, even when I push Him away. Even when I just want to sit in the pit of sadness.
I love you, Log! You were and will always be a priceless gift to me.
Until we meet again, precious brother.
Time to Climb Out of the Pit
To be honest, I am thankful last week is over. I am tired and just emotionally drained. I’ve been sitting in a pit. I need to learn how to climb out now. Not that my grieving needs to end or that I am suddenly okay. But I do need to regain the perspective from my last blog. I need to press forward, in the midst of pain, knowing there are many around me who are not yet ready for heaven. They need to hear the truth of the Gospel. In fact, the very lady who shared with me about what they do here in Tanzania on the anniversary of a loved one is a woman of another faith. Please pray for Mama T. Please pray that the Lord would allow me to continue in a relationship with her so that one day I would earn the right to speak truth into her life. She needs to know Jesus.
Thanks for joining us on our journey here in Tanzania!
Together Making Him Known,
Jamie (for the Sharpes)