Relief is a sigh that says finally. It is an exhale that releases. It is the breath of letting go. It is the whisper of a thing that is over, done, finished. It is a kind of liberation.
Relief takes me to last month. I spent three weeks caring for Ruben, our cat. As he grew progressively worse, I did not realize the heaviness of the weight that I was bearing in his behalf until we made the decision to have him euthanized. Once that decision had been made, I felt relief.
The relief did not replace my sadness or my pain. Instead, it was an exhale in the midst of pain and suffering. It was the breath of releasing him despite my desire to keep him. It was a sigh that indicated the end—the end of watching him deteriorate and become unhappy and the end of trying to do what was best for him. The relief came with the knowing that the decision was right. It whispered, “It’s over.”
I cannot help but think of Jesus’ words before he died. “It is finished.” I hear relief in those words—relief in the midst of suffering and pain. His final breath whispers, “The thing is done.” It was the climactic exhale of three years lived for the benefit and welfare of humankind. It was the sigh that voicelessly suggested the rightness of the decision. It was the culminating relief that understood the conclusion—that in the closing moments of creation, all would be well.
Here is my reflective question for the day: “Relief, what does it hold for you?”