“Here comes the sun,” the long-haired tattoo artist said right before the roar of the machine cut on.
I cringed at how impersonal it all was, at how thoughtlessly he threw out words that had come to mean so much to me.
I wanted to hit him.
If it wasn’t for the sting of my wrist reminding me that he was in control of an inked-filled needle dangerously close to a main vein, I might have.
In his defense, he didn’t know.
He didn’t know that my husband designed this tattoo for me on some cheap website during his late-stage battle with cancer.
He didn’t know that my husband showed me this design hours after a conversation with doctors telling us that it didn’t look like that sun was going to come for us this time.
He didn’t know how much this symbol, this drawing of lines and dots based around an overplayed lyric, had carried us through thus far, and how much it would have to carry me through for the rest of my life.
The song Here Comes the Sun, as cliche as it may be, always represented hope for us. It was the song that always made us stop talking and listen every time that “little darling” started. It was the resolution that Andrew and I prayed for every single day.
And because of this, I almost didn’t get the tattoo. It didn’t make sense to me to believe that the sun could ever rise again without my favorite 50% of my favorite love story.
But about three weeks after Andrew passed, I got the tattoo anyways. About three weeks after he passed away, I felt the sun again, at least a little bit.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Yeah, that’s right, we’re diving back into Job, because when we focus on the loss, we miss the sun of it all.
“The Lord gave AND the Lord has taken away,” that is a two part sentiment, but we only seem to address the last part.
Or, if we do address the first part, we do it in a “how dare you” reaction.
How dare you give me this thing, this love, this joy, and then turn around and take it back.
How dare you allow me to fall deeply, passionately, in love, and then rip it from me.
How dare you allow me to have something that would hurt so badly to lose.
Beautiful girl, would you forfeit the love to avoid the loss?
I ask, because there are genuinely times that my answer is, “Maybe.” There are times when I am so overwhelmed, disillusioned in a cloud of pain, that I would choose anything to escape it.
That’s how I’m programmed. We live in a culture that is so afraid of pain, so afraid to feel pain, that we ignore the beauty in it. We ignore the love that has to exist in order to feel the pain of the loss. In our desperate attempt to stop feeling the discomfort, we neglect the beauty in the fact that the ache in our chest reminds us how well, how deeply, how faithfully, we did the one thing we are called over and over again to do.
The Lord gave me immense love.
The Lord gave me the opportunities to love immensely.
This mattered then, and it matters even now.
The Lord gave me a husband who honed me, adored me, fought for me so beautifully.
He gave me a dad who raised me in adoration, who filled my life with music, and novels, and thoughts, and theories.
He gave me far more than I deserve, and this gift didn’t stop giving simply because the physicality of it disappeared. Who they were, how they grew me, how they loved me, how I love them, that remains.
It always remains.
In a sense, when I feel anger, when I recognize the things and people I have lost, I have to also face the reality of what I had. Darkness can only seem dark when you’ve experienced light.
I know pain because I loved. I loved because I had.
I am better because I loved, had, and therefore, I praise.
How could I possibly be mad at a God who allows the beauty of these lives, these loves, to exist even in the resolution that was rooted in loss?
How could I possibly be mad at a God who lets the impact, the love of these relationships, remain?
What I was given was extraordinary, and even to this day, even as I sit the wreckage of the loss of it all, I know where it continues to exist in me.
What an honor it is to carry on these legacies.
What an honor to carry on this sun.
I recently heard another song by the Beatles, one that doesn’t get played quite as often. It’s called I’ll Follow the Sun.
It starts like this:
One day you’ll look to see I’ve gone
For tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun
For most of our lives, we can look in the distance, even in the more difficult times, and see the sun coming. But then, one day, we face a new level of darkness, a long and tedious tunnel where it seems like the sun will never exist again.
No one tells you that, sometimes, the sun just doesn’t come.
Sometimes, we have to find it, follow it.
What I got out of this song, what I continue to understand every time I hear it, is Andrew and my dad, they both began following the sun the minute they left this world. They followed their resolution into eternity.
I can’t follow them anymore. These two men, these figures of logic and grace, these endearing thought leaders in my life, they have both stepped off the paths that I have access to.
Instead, my sun will exist in different forms, but not really separate from them. My sun will still exist in the advice that is deep within me. It exists in the roots of deep adoration.
To me, the sun exists in what I had then and what I will have forever. It’s in the imprint that they will always have on me.
It exists in the way that Andrew’s laugh still floods my memories, and his advice still speaks loudly into my most current moments.
It exists in the underlined sentences of the pages of my Dad’s favorite novels and my memorized lyrics of so many James Taylor songs.
It exists in the way they both loved me, grew me. It exists in the honor it is to continue loving them, growing in the lessons I carry on from the days that our lives ran side-by-side.
It exist in the chances and choices to receive again, and not with fear that it’ll all be taken away again, but in the knowledge that even when those you love are taken away, the impact of the love remains.
It exists in the moment where love becomes an easy choice, because in it’s purest form, in it’s most faith-based form, you have nothing to fear because there is nothing you can truly lose.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, but the impact of it all, the impact of a life, doesn’t leave with the people.
It remains in my pain. It remains in my tears. It remains in my memories. It remains in my morality. It remains in my theories. It remains in my writing. It remains at the central base of who I am.
It remains in the sun, and that is why I’ll always choose to follow it.