By Angelica Roszhart
In just a moment, life can change so abruptly. Mid-afternoon on July 13, 2018 was that abrupt, life-changing moment for me. I could barely make out my mom’s words as she told me, between sobs, that my beloved older brother had been killed in a single-engine plane crash just hours earlier. He was only 30 and left behind his wife who he was madly in love with, and four little children, one of whom was not yet born. Words fall short to adequately describe the pain of that moment and of the days to come. It was as if my heart, a pot of clay, had fallen to the bottom of my being and was shattered into so many unrecognizable pieces.
The initial blow of grief was crushing. But it has been in the passing of time, when the pain has sometimes felt most unbearable. The secondary losses that I didn’t expect…the pieces of my brother that seem to slip away slowly. The way my phone never ever lights up with a message from him anymore; the way I sometimes can’t quite remember his laugh exactly how it was and I fear forgetting it all together; the way my whole family will never be the same again; and the simple fact that as time goes by people say his name less and less and I miss hearing it. Gradually, I accumulate the parts of him that are gone and with the passing days there are more and more “gone parts.” It has been in these times, in these dark times where the smiles of life seem all but erased and forgotten by the tears of grief that I have needed someone to walk this path closely with me. Someone to be a friend and a mentor. Someone not afraid of broken things.
Gracie and I have been good friends since childhood. We started having Bible studies together back when we were only in grade-school and I became her self-proclaimed little “Mentor,” giving her all sorts of “seasoned” junior-high advice as she spilled her fourth-grade guts to me about all her boy crushes. Ha! Besides talking about boys, we also studied God’s word together and spent time praying with and for each other. Over the years, we have stayed close and much like a proud big sister, I have watched her grow in her love for the Lord and become one of the most caring people I know. Despite being younger than me, Gracie has been that one to walk this road of grief closely with me. She has been that friend. That mentor. That person not afraid of brokenness. While these things are true of several key people in my life, Gracie’s consistent presence has marked my life so deeply and has been like a balm on an open wound.
We live in different countries, in different time zones, with very different schedules, but still Gracie makes time to talk. She doesn’t always have “just the right words to say” (who does anyways?!) but when she doesn’t know what to say, she tells me so and then adds, “But I’m here. I will always listen. I want to know how you are.” She doesn’t try to fix the hurt. She simply walks alongside and lives out the ministry of being present in another’s sorrow.
As time passes, grief often brings a feeling of loneliness, a state of silence, and a sensation of being lost. Gracie has made the grief in this passing of time less LONELY because she sits and cries with me. She has made the grief less SILENT because she asks about my brother, wanting to hear about who he was and what I miss about him. She has made the grief feel less like being LOST because she always points me back to my Savior. “How can I pray for you?” is her most frequent question. Gracie is a stay-at-home mom and in one of our most recent conversations she told me that in this season of life she doesn’t always have time to do a lot of the things she’d like to do, “But Angelica, what I do HAVE is a whole lot of time to pray. And so I pray for you ALL the time.”
I think of Jesus, right before He was to suffer the deepest grief anyone has ever had to suffer. Do you know what He did? He went to a garden with his best friends and prayed. But sadly, His best friends weren’t even able to stay awake long enough to pray and be present with Him in his sorrow. If there is someone in your life going through grief right now, consider “going to the garden with them to pray.” Don’t allow the fears of not knowing what to say or do, stop you. All they probably need is for you to meet them in their brokenness and weep with them. Then, slowly, gently lift them up in prayer to Jesus, the One who passed through the deepest grief of all so that we might have life and hope and joy, even in our darkest hours. Don’t be afraid of broken things because in the brokenness, and in His perfect time, God is resurrecting new things.
Angelica Roszhart grew up in the Amazon jungle in Brazil, where her parents served as missionaries. Ever since she was a little girl she knew she, too, wanted to serve the Lord in missions. Angelica and her husband currently work in Northern Argentina, directing a day-home for children at risk. They have two, young children of their own and about 80 more whom they call “their kids.” Angelica loves her family, children, art, riding horses, being outside, and her Savior.
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