I'm almost hesitant to post this as I fear that my words will be misunderstood, but I'm going to say it anyhow.
A dear friend of mine has been responsible for the care of an elderly relative, and all last week, sat by her deathbed until at last this weekend she slipped away. Walking with her through this time has taken me back two and a half years, to a time when I myself sat beside my grandfather's bed as he lay dying. That experience was one I could never put into words, and I'm sure anyone who has been there knows just what I mean.
However, I hadn't thought too much about one of the feelings that marked that time in my life until those same feelings came surging to the forefront of my mind again with this recent death.
When my grandfather died, I felt many things. Shock, even though his death was expected, because somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I realized that I subconsciously believed he would live forever. (Of course, he will... but that's not how I meant it.) Grief, knowing that never again would I see him, talk to him, laugh with him, share old memories with him, or make new memories. Relief, because he had entered the last stage of Alzheimer's and for him to continue to live in that state would have been so hard on everyone, himself included.
But above all those other feelings rose the feeling of jealousy. I knew where he was going, and I longed to go with him.
This is where I fear that my words may be misinterpreted. I am not suicidal. Not depressed. When I say I long to go, I am not saying, "Oh, life is so miserable, I just want to die." I don't want to escape anything in this life, I'm not looking for an out.
I've been in that place, I will confess. For years, I suffered from depression and anxiety, and I did long for death as a means of escape. I don't think I could ever have been called suicidal, because I knew that no matter how much I wanted to, I could never bring myself to actually harm myself in any way, but there is no question that if I could have, I would have. Those were dark times, and I say this only to explain how very different that kind of "I want to die" statement is from what I'm saying now.
I'm very happy. Life is good, and I enjoy living to the fullest. In fact, I haven't even thought about these feelings I had at my grandfather's death for quite some time. Until this weekend.
When my friend and I were talking, shortly after the death, one thing she said was, "She WANTED to go..." (She was very elderly, and suffering.) And instantly those feelings of jealousy came surging up within me from a place so deep I'd forgotten its existence. "I want to go!" I thought. I want to go not because I'm miserable, not because I'm suffering, not because I no longer want to live -- I want to go because I know that what I'd be going to is so much better than where I am now.
And then it occurred to me that I'm in a very similar situation that I think is much more easily understood by others. I'm currently living in a town I don't want to live in. And the situation is so much the same. I'm actually quite happy here. I have a beautiful house in a lovely neighborhood. I love my church and really feel as if I belong there. My Bible Study group is full of wonderful ladies that I've bonded with. I truly enjoy my job, and the children and families I get to work with. I have good relationships with my coworkers and that makes teamwork so much easier when it comes to meeting the children's needs. I've developed friendships and social circles here that I will miss if/when I move away. The fact is, I've put down some roots here, and I really like it here quite a lot. If my house doesn't sell, and I end up staying awhile, it's not that big of a deal -- I do want to move, but I'm also happy where I'm at.
So if life here is so great, why do you want to move? I'm sure you're asking...
The answer is simple. Because I'm homesick. The one thing that I don't have in this town is family. In a town three hours away, I have a grandmother. I have a niece and a nephew that I love beyond words. I have parents, siblings, and aunts, uncles, and cousins galore. And I feel stranded up here away from them all. And that is the one and only reason I want to move. I'm homesick.
So then is it really difficult to understand my other yearnings, my jealousy of those who go on to the life ahead of us while I'm left here on earth for I have no idea how many more years? It's not that things are bad here in life. It's simply that I'm homesick. I know that this world is not my home, my heart lives in heaven, and that is why I long to go there.
Yet when I say such things, people gasp in horror or in shock, or they chide me for saying such awful things, or they think I'm depressed. Why is that? Why is it so easy for people to understand that I am very happy here in my current town and yet I want to go "home" to the other town because my family is there and it's where I belong, and so difficult to understand that I am very happy here in my current life on earth and yet I want to go "home" to my other life where I really belong?
Does anyone understand? Feel the same way? I'm really not depressed. I'm probably happier and more content than I've ever been at any other point previously in my life. Is it wrong to yearn for the better life I know is waiting, as long as I also am willing to wait patiently, though longingly, for the time God has chosen for me to enter it?