A Monkey in Cambodia

With what I was praying was tongue-in-cheek, I told Denise to get a pre-ER photo and to then make sure we later get a post-ER photo. That statement was inspired by a $5 bill. Hard to believe that a Lincoln can get you a moto for 24 hours; but that is the case in Cambodia. Before she hopped on I told her to let me take it around the parking lot first, to make sure the brakes work - the real reason was to see that first I wouldn't kill myself before the prospect of killing the two of us. After that 30 second loop, with surprisingly better results than expected, we sped off in tandem.
As we cruised a water front street in the town of Kep, we rounded a curve and I spotted what I hoped we would spot the following day as we were to take a hike in Kep National Forest - monkeys. There were probably a dozen or so fur balls that had descended a little hillside and lost a slight amount of their cuteness as they scavenged a now opened trash can. A family almost simultaneously pulled up with what appeared to be a fair share of over-ripe bananas. Some monkey cuteness returned as they left the trash can for a more humane buffet of delight. As these lite grey speedsters left the one side of the rode for better eatings on the other side of the road, Denise and I noticed the same thing while drawing a different conclusion. Denise said, "OH! look, she is carrying her baby". I thought, EWE! look, her baby is dead. Unfortunately, 2 seconds later we both reached the same conclusion, the mother was carrying around her deceased baby monkey.
Hoping that picture didn't gross you out too much, I want to share with you my learning's around a sight I processed for some time. In short, my conclusion to be unpacked is this - grief is not something we immediately release, in fact, we often carry the monkey of grief for some time. To me, it was obvious that the law of God I was discovering in nature was that this momma monkey was not ready to simply move on and let go. On top of all this, the other monkeys didn't seem to be gossiping about what might appear to be an extended period of grief that many of them had probably never seen or personally experienced. How many days had it been, I have no idea. How did it happen, my guess would be further off on this question than the first. How long would she "carry on like this", one could only speculate. In the end God taught me 8 things: 1) Grief is a process. 2) Different "monkeys" process grief differently. 3) Only you will know when it is time to release the grief. 4) When one releases the grief the grief does not all of the sudden "disappear". 5) The momma monkey was eating in the midst of her grief, but it was obvious life was different for her in that moment. 6) Carrying grief is hard. (It took her a couple attempts to get up a stone wall that separated the street from the hillside.) 7) While it was harder to carry the grief, it was obvious she was not prepared to let go. 8) I don't think it would matter about when other monkeys said she should let go. Only she would know when that would be a possibility.
What grief monkey are you carrying today? Maybe it is lost health you grieve; maybe a lost job; a lost friend; a lost spouse or perhaps the deepest of all losses, they say - a lost child. Even the laws of nature teach that grief is a process. May God comfort you as you navigate the pain of your loss and if the next time we see each other you are carrying your monkey, please know I am moved with sympathy and join you in your loss.
This weekend I will be sharing about our mission trip to Cambodia and I can't wait to share all the stories! Yet, this story seemed to stand alone and I wanted to give it the platform I felt it deserved. You never know when you will be in Cambodia and God will teach you through a monkey some deep lessons on grief.