I worry my grief like a sore on my tongue. The pain was acute at first, but always hidden. Now I can forget it for hours at a time, until by chance it brushes up against something unexpectedly, like my tongue against my teeth, and once found I cannot stop touching the sore spot against the sharp edge that reminded me of it – a pain that is almost as searing as when it was new, but somehow sweet, too – or at least compelling. I keep poking at it and poking at it, until I am distracted by something outside of myself and forget again, for a few hours.
My daughter has started biting her tongue every couple of days. I am not sure how this is happening – if she is somehow speaking or eating differently – preschoolers are more changeable than the weather. I do wonder, though, if there is any relation to the time, 2 weeks ago, when she bit her tongue so hard that it bled, and I gave her an ice pop to ease the pain. But I have not given her one since then.
So the metaphor isn’t perfect then. No one is handing me a stiff drink to numb the wound when I mention that I miss my Dad. Thank God. But then again, I am a grown up, and have learned over many decades how little people want to hear of what pains me when they are feeling fine, so I don’t mention it very often. And it is not like I have a bottle of vodka sitting in the freezer next to the ice pops. For whatever good the numbing would do. I have seen my mother grieve her father my whole life long – a man who disappeared into the hospital never to return when her age could still be counted on two hands. Unlike a tongue, which heals in a couple of days, the pain of having a parent ripped away is an open sore that does not heal, until finally God smooths it over, when Christ returns.
My sweet four year old daughter is praying for Jesus to come back every day. Come, Lord Jesus.