I met a remarkable young woman yesterday, a bride looking for a photographer. She has amazing red hair, and a spirit just as fiery. She’s a photographer, a painter, and a singer. We got to talking about how she sings at weddings…and also at funerals. That was intriguing to me, because I remember very vividly shooting for a family not too long ago. It was a young mother that was passing away. I clearly remember watching her through the lens as she stared so intently at her children who were too young to understand, and that heartache is something I’ll never forget. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to see. Then this young bride said something that struck me. She said that she’s always thought that the coffins for children are far too small and light, that they should be big and very heavy, to match how much love their parents hold, to match the weight of their loss. I told her then that she should write about that experience, because it could help people who’ve lost a loved one, but she told me that while she was a singer, a songwriter she was not. I think that the burden and the despair she’s talking about is something we all relate to when we have to bury anyone that we love, young or old. See, no box could ever hold the love, or the hurt, and no amount of earth could ever cover up the hope of seeing them again.
Then today in a very old, familiar way, the words came spilling out of me. Maybe this will help someone, maybe they’ll stumble on these words and the promises of Psalm 30. Maybe they’ll find hope restored, strength and perseverance, and so here is my rendition of this young woman’s words:
For A Night
Today I stood on God’s green earth as they lowered you into the ground. I didn’t hear the songs they sang. I didn’t hear a sound.
And yet my ears were strained, through the hot tears my tired eyes fought, watching, listening, aching, for someone to tell me this was not.
That box they laid you into, it’s too small to hold your dreams. It’s too tiny to carry such amazing love, and it’s far too light it seems.
It should be made of iron, heavy, almost too hard to bear. It should match the measure of my burden to see them put you down in there.
As they covered up the earth and scripture floated on the air, I felt kind and loving words, embraced by those who care.
There is a distance now between us, but a place I know you’ll wait. My mission now, to finish this race, to meet you at that Gate.
His promises will I cling to. His words will keep me true until the day comes at last to me that He brings me home to you.
Take a breath, hold on my Love. This time will pass away. Rest and know I’m coming, In Jesus name I pray.
–Dan Elliott. 8.16.08