Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

Grief journal (2 years)

November 20, 2012

“There’s a hole in the world now. In the place where he was, there’s now just nothing. A center like no other, of memory and hope and knowledge and affection which once inhabited this earth is gone. Only a gap remains.”

–Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

It’s been two years since we said a short goodbye to Vincent and a long hello to grief. Two years have passed since I reluctantly wrote these words, then struggled to stand up and speak more reluctant words at his funeral.

Much around us has changed in two years, but it’s mostly the same stuff on the inside. No new revelations. No writing in the sky. As was the case two years ago, I still miss Vincent and wish he were still alive—with us. Period.

I took this photo at the cemetery this morning. You can see what I saw: some flowers, a bronze marker and a little blue pinwheel spinning in the rainy trade winds. His name might be there, but I assure you Vincent is not. There is no 3-year-old chasing after birds or tramping mud into the car. No requests for piggy-back rides or other bedtime delays. Only a gap remains.

So I’m not a huge fan of November 20th, the day that devastated our family. It’s a day that annually seems to call for succinct explanations of lessons learned or sturdy assurances of comfort found. But even as the brightest fresh flowers can never sparkle like Vincent’s eyes, the most eloquent words of Wolterstorff, Sittser, Lewis or Dickinson are no match for the silence of his absence.

It’s especially loud today.

  • Grammy Holmes

    That silence is loud here too. I know time doesn’t dull the depth of love we have for Vinnie or our longing to see him again. I talked to his great-grandma Ernie the other day and she sang the song to me that she says she sings every day and has sung every day these past two years, to the memory of Vincent. It’s Irving Berlin’s, “When I lost you.” You might want to listen to it sometime online. It’s very sad, but also beautiful and meaningful that his great-grandmother who only met him once, thinks of him daily, misses him constantly, and longs for the time when she’ll see him again. …we all miss him in varying degrees of deep, heart-wrenching ways.

  • Thanks Mom Holmes. I just listened to that song and read some of the story behind it. I love how it captures the mood in a very classic 1920’s sort of way, and I can picture your mom singing it.