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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)

TITLE: Where Grief Lives
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


My fingers stick to the keyboard. Looking down, I see blood on the desk, the computer, and it had soaked into the mouse pad leaving a crimson stain, much like the one I envision stains my soul or wherever my grief lives. The cuts are substantial; yet, I feel no physical pain. I think my brain can only handle so much agony at once.

This year, it feels as intense as it did in 1993 when Dad announced that several aneurysms had ruptured in Mom’s brain. She had almost no chance of surviving; still, she hung on for almost a week. But for me, it wasn’t long enough.

As I sob, I look up. Momma, why did you have to die? It’s not fair. You should have tried harder.

Suddenly, I’m certain I feel Jesus’ presence. What’s the benefit of hanging onto your grief?

I try to push his voice from my head, but he is unrelenting. What purpose does it serve you?

Even though I’m sweating, a chill ripples down my spine. With as much faith as I can muster, I beg God, Rewind time and save her.

His voice pesters me. What about Lydia? If I rewind time, she won’t be here.

At that precise second, she emerges from the bathroom, her hair dripping from her shower. She wraps her damp arms around me. “I love you, Mom, and look what a beautiful person you made.”

Even though I’ve spent her entire life wishing Mom were here to help me raise my “wild child,” I know she is an amazing person. People laugh and bug their eyes out when I mention she is my difficult one. Her namesake’s blood courses through her soul, and somehow Mom lives on.

“Go dry off. I’m fine,” I lied.

Again, Jesus speaks, You haven’t answered. What do you gain from clinging to the past?

I jut out my defiant chin, simultaneously realizing that Lydia comes by her stubborn streak honestly. Each year, Mom fades more and more. Why do you make me remember the grief but allow me to forget the good stuff?

Like a wise counselor, Jesus says, Why do you think?

Shoulders slumping, I try to hide.

God chuckles. I can still see you. What does your grief provide?

I choke on the tears, and I can’t breathe as scenes from the past flash through my mind. They all have one thing in common–I’m contemplating suicide because I feel like a burden to my family. I’m afraid of forgetting.

Jesus’ voice is but a whisper. Forgetting what?

Squeezing my eyes shut, I dig my fingernails into my face. If I forget how much I miss her, I might give into the voices that tell me to kill myself. If you loved me, you’d stop Satan from tormenting me.

I can almost hear Jesus sigh. You’ve never asked.

I throw my hands in the air. What if I forget my grief and my kids hurt like I do?

I feel something...or someone...tilting my chin up, and my eyes rest on the framed collage, full of beautiful smiles from my family’s faces. Next, I notice Emily’s wedding picture. Behind Grandma’s special girl, who is now happily married, stands my son. Quinten’s a living legacy of his grandmother, more alike than he knows. She struggled in school, believing the teachers who’d called her stupid. My son wrestled with similar anxieties. I often worry that I’d failed him. If Mom had been here...

Again, Jesus nudges me. What did Quinten want this week?

The blood rushes to my cheeks as I remember. Needing some help with his sermon for his internship at Duke University, he called me. We talked about his grandma and how whenever God needed her, she gladly volunteered.

Earlier, I’d urged him to include Mom’s favorite hymn, “Here I am, Lord.” He’d insisted that the music had been prepared already. His next words stung. “It’s my sermon, Mom, not yours.”

Sunday morning, he called, laughing despite his frustration. “Why are you always right? Guess what song follows my sermon?”

Lydia bounds out of her room. “Who are you talking to?”

Returning to the present, I smile. “Jesus.”

Rolling her eyes like only a twenty-one-year-old daughter can, she responds, “Did he give you any advice?”

“He promised me if I follow, he will lead me.”

Lydia raises her right eyebrow just like Mom used to do. In this moment, I know I will never forget.

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This article has been read 291 times
Member Comments
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C D Swanson 08/22/14
Beautiful tender story that described the MC's internal torment very well.

Loved the wrap up.

God bless~
Dannie Hawley 08/24/14
Gripping. Heart-stopping. Emotionally riveting. These are just a few of the words that came to mind as I read your piece. You've done a brilliant job of describing the inner turmoil of your MC. The beautiful intervention of the words of Jesus serve to give hope, not just to your MC, but to everyone who suffers as your MC does. Excellent work!
Diane M. Bowman 08/24/14
Amazing writing, as always. :)

The phrase 'wherever my grief lives' makes it sound like a physical enemy that could be evicted. Hmmm...

The story made me think of the song 'Hold On.'

You can hold on to sorrow,
You can hold on to pain,
You can hold on to anger,
But there's nothing to be gained.

You can hold to a thread at the end of a rope,
But if you're holding on to Jesus, you're holding on to hope.
LaVonne Wood 08/24/14
No one can understand the grief another goes though, except God. If we let go, He heals. You have done a great job describing that grief and God's answer to it.

Thanks for sharing! Blessings, LaVonne
Terry Atchison08/25/14
Wow. This reminds me of a few conversations that I have experienced with God. Very touching.
Joe Moreland08/26/14
This is beautifully written, and it whirls from one thing to the next, much like would happen in grief.

The timing of your story is so amazing to me. It's been here all week and I only just read it today - the day I found out that the father of one of the youth at our church is expected to pass this week. Maybe God led you to write this so I could read it and not be blind to what his daughter might be going through.

Thanks for sharing this.
Bea Edwards 08/26/14
You did a wonderful job portraying your MC's struggle.
Superb ending!
Graham Insley08/26/14
An excellent exposë of what happens in the process of grief; which can go on in life for years.

My only red ink is to comment on the second sentence; which, for me, was too complex to be a good hook. I felt the hook could have been much stronger if this sentence was broken up a little and made sharper.

I loved the dialog with Jesus. It seemed authentic to me; I guess because I often talk to Him in just this way.


Dianne Schoening10/04/14
I thought this was beautifully written. I have lost both Mom and Dad and miss them terribly. Grief can linger on underneath the surface.
God is always there for us no matter what the problem. We have to choose Him over all else.
Andrea Willard 10/18/14
Articulate, moving, an amazing correlative to the different ages in her life. The cutting illustration was very real. You are an amazing author.
Mary Toll06/10/15
Shann, Thank you for illustrating this powerful and moving story of losing your mother and its cancerous affects it had in your soul. I can see that as your story unfolds, the grief of losing a loved can have a detrimental domino affect on the whole family when just one person gets out of balance through fear. It's interesting too, that as you listened to Jesus, the light of truth could shine on your suffering and bring healing to yourself and to those you love.
Well done, my friend, and ever so grateful to the Lord that you are here to help others get past any self rejection and any fear they may have.