I dreamed I was a child again, playing with my toys. I feel like a child a lot when I grieve. I even cry out for my “mommy” and “daddy” like a girl who has tripped and bruised her knee.
But in my dream my parents were alive, and I was playing with the toys they’d given me. I woke up with a delightful sense of well-being. I felt loved. I felt taken care of.
I realized of all the things I sifted through at my parents’ home, the toys in my old bedroom always made me smile. I cried over a lot of their possessions, but the toys took me back to joy.
Joy is an important ingredient in grief. We cannot properly face the ocean of sorrow that death plunges us into without the life preserver of joy. But how do we find joy at a time like that?
There’s no one answer to fit all circumstances. Christians often turn to knowing their loved one is in a place without suffering, a place where they will reunite with their loved one someday.
There’s also joy in happy memories of the loved one. And eventually, we find joy in life around us, in our work, our play, and our other relationships. Grief doesn’t go away, but in a way it can be diluted by the goodness of life that remains.
One of my joys was making discoveries at my parents’ home. I loved learning more about my folks through letters, journals and objects associated with family events. In this way, I re-experienced my parents. It was the closest thing I had to having them with me.
Last year, I found a Christmas list in the pantry of the dining room. Typewriter. Telescope. Benji. In all, there were five items for me, and five for my brother. My parents gifted us each item for Christmas that year, when I was 10. It must have been one of our good financial years.
A stuffed replica of a movie dog, Benji sits on the top shelf of my old bedroom closet today. It now is a reminder of how my parents loved me in every tangible way at their disposal.
The bedroom is the last room I’ve concentrated on to clean out. When I started, I took a box next to Benji down from the shelf and sat on the floor. I looked at all my little people and my plastic horses. In the home where my parents died, I grinned and giggled.
There’s something healing about being a child again. Even if for a moment.
Is there a toy you’ve kept that takes you back to your childhood?
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