First, I feel relief. He feels no more pain. He’s no longer embarrassed by his need for assistance. He is free. He is alive. Just not here. I feel relief, acutely aware of the lack of sorrow or pain in my own soul. But suspecting all the same that my time will come. My time to grieve. To gush. To weep. Not from anger, regret, or the sense of injustice. But from the inescapable permanence that is separation from him. As long as I live, I will never see him again. Never hear his voice.

And later, perhaps an hour, it comes. The immutable laws of God flex their hallowed muscles upon my consciousness. I bow to the weight of that which cannot be changed. I feel the invisible storm cloud of tears welling up on the inside before they have manifested. The pressure. The moment of explosion when release comes and my body sighs in relief as my shoulders heave and sag to the rhythm of my sobs.

This sorrow is both a hurt and a joy, in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. The hurt is from the sudden awareness of his absence. The joy from the sudden experience of something I cannot manipulate or control. I feel the confirmation of that belief that children appreciate boundaries. I have just encountered a boundary I cannot surmount, and there is a pleasure and a relief accompanying this realization. Life is really real. Death is really real. It’s not an option. It’s not a suggestion.

Through it all, there is still a peace that rests on me as I start to grieve. I know he knew Jesus. I know he is fine. I am spared the grief that comes when one’s destination is uncertain or hopeless. And even as we honor a life fully lived, we look forward in the same breath to new life and new generations to come.