Like the day in 1997, I am in the interlude today. Interludes are difficult places. We waited for the body of Rukhsanah to be released from the autopsy. We waited to plan the funeral. We waited for the return of Alysabeth and Jesse.
It was so hard to focus on the present when the past and the future demanded so much. That is the way it is with interludes. They are times when you can let go of the past and the future is screaming for attention. And yet you can’t go forward, and you can’t go back. You can’t undo what has happened nor can you step into the future. It can be a paralyzing place.
We took our son to the hospital in this interlude. Immediately they put us in isolation. He needed our attention. His need was serious. I don’t think I was fully there in that room with him. As I think of it now, I think how scared he must have been to be put in isolation. We were with him as everyone else who came in the room was masked and covered up. They feared meningitis.
I was probably the only one in the room who understood the seriousness of that word, meningitis. Nevertheless, with our hearts and minds on the death of Rukhsanah, our minds raced and swirled with what if’s, I silently screamed to God ENOUGH? Like all interludes, on the outside, we were quiet and withdrawn into our own selves.
After the blood was drawn and some tests completed, the doctor came in unmasked. I knew that was a good sign. However, they offered no answers. They sent us home in the same condition as we came; no answers, no medicine, no plan, no diagnosis…nothing. Interludes are like that, you never know what is next.
There were phone calls to make and to answer. People calling offering their condolences and asking questions. Food arrangements, flight arrangements for the son who lived in Missouri, so many details that must be arranged with a numbed heart and mind.
It was my job to conduct the orchestra of individuals in our life as well as the details. When you conduct, you forget that there are individuals behind each instrument. Individuals experiencing their own pain and grief.
Daughters old enough to understand and yet, how do you understand the death of an infant, their niece. Daughters too young to understand but yet caught up in the whirlwind of pain. A son, sick, in pain, terrified and often alone as his needs were shelved for the demands of the moment. Two older sons who looked and clutched their own children; trying to imagine the pain of losing one. And the daughter with the deepest loss, arms aching for her children.
Each of us contributing to the interlude, clinging to each other and yet alone in our individual grief, pain and questioning.
There were three days of interlude; waiting and planning, questioning and crying. Numb people mechanically focusing on the things that had to be done. And me, the conductor, the numbest of all, trying to cope, trying to be strong while my heart was silently screaming.
The thing about an interlude is that you know there will be another movement to the piece. You know this isn't the end. Something else will happen. You don't know if it will be loud or soft, discordant or harmonic. You only know that something follows.
You can only hope. You can only cling to the hope that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) There is a resurrection not just when we are resurrected in the last day but in the resurrection of life after death. There is a next movement after the interlude as sure as the daylight comes at dawn.