(Note: Mild Trigger Potential: Mental Illness, Grief, Loss, Abandonment, Childhood Trauma)
A dear friend phoned me last Sunday to ask how I was going, post-surgery. She’d been thinking about me for a few days … it was lovely to reconnect and a true blessing to have an empathetic listening ear. But … how was she doing? “Thanks for asking,” she said. You see, her empathy was born of her own set of struggles which, like mine, had left her feeling isolated, lonely … and disconnected.
There was that word again—disconnected—cycling through my contemplations in a cycle that whirred into action shortly after I said I’d participate in this Easter synchroblog.
Disconnected. What had that to do with Easter? Wasn’t Easter a time to reconnect? With family? With friends? With faith?
Ben’s heart skittered. He stepped back, closer to the anchor …
Through a muffled wash of words, he heard, ‘… multiple fatalities …’
‘No! God, no. Please.’ Ben’s prayer bounced off Vaig’s bland expression, the floor, the walls, the ceiling and heaven itself.
‘Would you like me to call a relative or friend, so you’re not alone?’ Torino’s voice sounded distant. Disconnected.
The next page continues:
Ben retreated into the empty, anchored space behind him, overwhelmed and drowning. Why, Father? Why? Why have you forsaken me? His own heart bled words from a lifetime of Good Friday sermons.
(Excerpts from pages 49 and 50)
It’s no coincidence Ben’s disconnection occurs on Good Friday … the day we remember Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, the One who ‘came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10 NIV). Ben’s own disconnection from family drives his determination to find and rescue Mac, another character tragically disconnected from family, held hostage in a dodgy witness protection scheme.
Being separated from a loving parent, or child, or sibling, is hard … at any age … at any time. During special holiday celebrations like Christmas and Easter, along with the flood of happy memories (or deep regrets), grief also likes to invite itself to dinner.
Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and her sister … When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home. From John 19:25-27
My grandfather passed away when my mum was only four. Septicaemia set in after a fall from a horse broke his hip. He left in an ambulance … and did not return.
On the third day after my birth, my mother suffered a sudden severe mental health crisis requiring urgent medical intervention. Driven by fearful memories of her father’s fateful ambulance trip, she vehemently refused to relinquish me or get into the ambulance—until her eldest sister arrived. Believing she, too, would never return, my mum ‘gave me’ to my aunt who received me as her own.
Thankfully, my mum recovered, though I understand it was almost six months before I returned home. My aunt often said, ‘Any longer, and I wouldn’t have been able to give you back.’
I loved and adored them both. They were strong, loving women of faith who lived their faith daily. Nevertheless, throughout my childhood and teen years I lived through the trauma of repeated disconnection when my mum’s illness required extended hospital treatment. During those years (and beyond) I often felt like a misfit, an outlier … distanced in a crowd … awkward amongst peers … times when I would ‘stand outside myself and observe’, a dissociative response I later learned was not uncommon amongst adoptees and others who had suffered childhood trauma. Strangely enough, the ability to observe comes in handy when you’re an author.
Unlike Ben, my fictional hero, I was not forsaken, but I was forgotten. I don’t think my beautiful mum ever fully overcame the grief of our early, and subsequent, separations. Nor did she fully accept that it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t, but her regret and deep sorrow would resurface from time to time. On one such occasion she told me she’d realised something was dreadfully wrong with her when the hospital discharged us from the maternity ward—she’d turned to leave without me, then suddenly stopped and cried out, “Wait! I forgot the baby!” Through tears she asked me, “What mother forgets her own baby?”
Oh, how the devil loves to grasp any opportunity to oppress us; being ‘forgotten’ was a regular occurrence for me until Mum’s admission exposed a spiritual stronghold and it was broken. Which is why this gift, an original watercolour by my dear friend and fellow author, Nola Passmore, herself an adoptee, holds special significance for me:
Can you read the words Nola penned along the mountain tops? They are from Isaiah 49:15-16. “I will not forget you. See! I have you engraved on the palms of my hands.
The night my mum went home to be with her Lord and Saviour, another resident of the aged care facility who occupied the room next to hers, heard her singing hymns through the night and early hours of the morning …
I grieved her loss gently and over time … confident and content that she was reunited at last with both her fathers—the one she’d lost as a child, and the Heavenly Father she had trusted implicitly throughout her life, despite its many challenges.
Some years later, while visiting my aunt in hospital, as I hugged her, the comfort of her arms, and her sweet smell flooded my senses as they always did with an overwhelming sense of belonging; the body memories of my early months with her mothering remained forever strong. Her voice, gently murmuring, ‘my daughter’, in my ear, confirmed the connection was mutual.
Then came that terrible day … the phone rang. I answered it. My big sister broke the news—our aunt had passed away.
At that moment, I heard a primordial wail; where had it come from? As I stood beside myself, I realised that gut-wrenching cry had been mine, triggered by the agony of sudden, irreversible separation tearing through my heart and soul.
My beloved took the phone as I collapsed in tears. At the time, both he and my sister reassured me mine was a natural response to the shock of the news … maybe it was. But this week, I finally understood the deeper level … with my aunt’s departure, the last protective, connective link to my earthly mothers had been severed. At that agonising moment I’d been … disconnected.
And my cyclone of thoughts surrounding this blog intensified …
When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Heavenly Father, who heard the primordial wail as their connection to God was severed? Who heard their tears when the intimacy they shared with God as He walked and talked with them in Eden was shredded?
What did the cry of the Father’s heart sound like? Did it rend both earth and sky that day?
Did it reverberate through millennia to be heard by the watchers at the cross when God’s Son, Jesus—who had heard that primordial cry—cried out himself in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Mat 27:46)
Who heard God’s cry when death wrenched His beloved Son from Him in the greatest act of redemptive love ever known? The cry that shook earth and sky …
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54 NIV)
And, on the third day, was that cry finally swallowed up in victory as Christ, once and for all, wrenched a lost and fallen humanity from death’s grasp, so that all who believe on Him can reconnect for all eternity? He’s reaching out His open arms today, longing for the joy of our return. That’s the glorious, magnificent truth of the Easter message.
So, as we demolish those divinely delicious chocolate eggs this Easter, may our gratitude flow afresh for God the Father, Jesus Christ, His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, demolishing once and for all, the disconnection of disobedience through His glorious restoration of eternal life.
Oh, did I mention that my mother’s name was Grace? And my aunt’s name was Eve? No? Then I’ll mention it now because their names reinforce the mystery and marvel of Easter: In His grace, God relinquished his beloved Christ child to Eve, the mother of humanity. And now, in grace, every child ever born can be restored to God. If that doesn’t pull an earth-shattering shout of joy from our lips … maybe it’s time to reconnect, for the first time, or in renewed passion, with the Son of God, the true Hero of Easter.
Are you ready?
Would you like to read more? These encouraging contemplations written by Christian friends and fellow bloggers are just a click away via the following links. Fresh faith-based perspectives like these are a great way to nurture your sense of connection.
Easter through a female lens by Susan Barnes
Barabbas or Jesus? By Nola Lorraine
Easter: so much more than tradition by Virginia Wright
https://www.hisherd.com/our-stories/my-most-memorable-easter by Tamika Spaulding