Before the cold comes, we walk our familiar beat—one of the few such times since Lucy Mae’s death. One son still struggles; his quiet nature was so much in orbit around her sun. As time has passed, he misses her more instead of less and I try to resurrect other bits of life; I try to kindle tiny embers. But to take a walk now is a memorial and we are quiet as our feet fall in step.
I’m struggling to tell them something—they must have heard the angry words earlier, heard their mother crying. So much of the past few years has been a torrent of ups and downs and I’ve been grieving that lately, worried about how it will shape them. No one said love would be easy. I remember how my sister and I cowered in our beds at night as our own parents hurled word daggers at each other; anger bouncing off the walls and ricocheting into our hiding places. I remember the fear and that wild feeling inside.
So I tell them how lucky they are, that their parents love each other. That we are committed to staying together; that even when things are hard, love wins. One son talks about a friend whose parents have split up, and I tell him that so many times it does happen. Sometimes it’s for the best. And God will use these hard places for good if we allow it. And they want to know how it was for me after my parents divorce. Was I sad? Was it hard? So I tell them the story I’ve told them many times before, the one they never grow tired of hearing. It’s like a fairy tale to them, and for this I am grateful. I tell them how I cried myself to sleep every night for a year. How I lived with my dad and older brother for a while. How I missed my mother and sister and baby brother terribly. But how Jesus came to me during this time and held me. How he became real as skin to me then, and only then.
The quiet one stays quiet and I fill the space with words. I talk about making good decisions, about planning, and priorities, and seeking God in all.
It is January, the month they were both born, the month named after the Roman god Janus—that god with two faces, so depicted because he looks both to the future and the past. They called him the god of beginnings and transitions. His name comes from the Latin ianua, which means “door”. Mythology has him the keeper of doors, gates, bridges, and passages.
But as we stand on the bridge together and look down at the water tumbling over rock, carrying debris from days past, I feel the presence of the One True God fall over me. I see the wisdom of looking back to look forward, and I know this is why our good God calls us “to remember” so many times in scripture. I toss a stone down into the current; watch it sink beneath those ripples. The weight that holds it there speaks strength and I am anchored in this moment. I remember the Israelites’ stones of remembrance—called thus so they would never forget the way the Lord parted the Jordan River before them.
This is the kind of door my God keeps—one made from parted waters, one that passes safely through tongues of flame, one that parts the heavens in a windstorm. These impossible, seemingly impassible doors; these narrow gates that the world whispers about, this is not the way, it is too hard—these are the kinds of doors my God keeps. He opens them wide and still, I squeeze through as if only a tiny crack.
But this Doorkeeper? He not only holds the door aloft, he reaches for my hand and pulls me through.