I never know when the missing and wave of grief will come. A few weeks ago, it was when I closed the front door and the chill winter air flooded my senses as I watched the first snow fall of the season out the front door. Bobby, you were missed in that moment. Moments like that where the earth stands still for just a second and you remind yourself to take your next breath and your stomach flips as you turn to walk away. It's been almost 8 months and it's still hard for my mind to process. The reality that as long as we live, he will always be missing.
There is a sadness that hangs in the air as everyone talks about the season. Each holiday display, ad, and pinterest post feels like a lashing. Christmas cards arrive and while I'm grateful to be remembered and included there isn't the family picture I dreamed of sending. As I walked through Trader Joes last week, I teared up as the song "all I want for Christmas is you" played over the speakers. I stopped for a moment in front of the drink section and paused. As if I couldn't take another step without acknowledging the pain and the missing I was feeling for my boy in that moment. I just kept thinking, as tears welled up in my eyes, that he is all I really wanted for Christmas this year. I must have stopped so long, the store clerk approached me asking if I needed help finding anything. "No I'm fine thanks," I replied.
In those moments that's when death stings the most. Grief stares you down and says "I win for now." My arms that are empty still ache to be filled with my boy. I'm still feeling the physical effects of missing him. Grief runs its course in that way too. Aching arms, moments when a baby cries and you feel like your milk might let down, and sleepless nights thinking of the life that you could have had.
When I think of Christmas, I think of sickness and a room full of family as they opened one of their presents announcing that there would be a baby joining us next Christmas. A chorus of shrill squeals and congratulations followed. This year there won't be my Bobby to pass around, the long awaited gift was returned, far too soon. There's a lot of painful reminders that lie ahead and a lot of memories to relive from last year. Land mines, as I've called them before. A whole field to get through.
As people I talk of "the most wonderful time of the year" I want to hide and be alone. Getting a tree up sounds like a miracle and passing presents around feels trite. I don't want the gifts this year, I just want to celebrate the truth of the holiday. That Christ came to shine a light into our darkness. Born as a baby to make a way for me to inherit his righteousness, to be fully loved by God. That's where the celebration for me is, because He came, I can, someday, live with my Bobby forever and while I sing his praises here, I can join in the heavenly chorus there. A place where there won't be any more tears or sadness or grief at the sound of a holiday or the passing of a month mark since I held him. Celebrating that truth is where I've found my joy in a season that has brought an overwhelming feeling of Bobby's absence.
Do I believe in gods grace? Yes.
Do I know that God goes before me? Yes.
Do I believe that God ordained this? Yes.
Do I know God is with me? Yes.
All those truths and the impact on your heart does not mean there will be peace, love and joy in your heart at every moment when loss is present. Celebrations and holidays are harsh reminders that life isn't the way it should be and it doesn't mean that someone who believes and trusts in God wont experience immense sorrow on those days. What God gives us grace for doesn't mean the days we live in aren't hard. God's truth changes your outlook because you know God promises to lift you out and lift your head but it doesn't mean life and reminders don't hurt. Denying it and putting on the happy face to fit in doesn't make it better. I can't force this holiday season to be a joyful experience, all I can do is find joy in Him, the one who gives and takes away.
I've always written to be true to myself and this grieving process. I can't fake this and my honesty flows in every letter, word, and paragraph I write. My purpose in all this is to write about grief in the present tense. The reality of the process is it's so very hard to see God's perfect plan of redemption being worked out even if the head knowledge is there. It is a literal living of the cliche phrase "one day at a time."
I hate that life still sucks and hurts, in some ways, just as much as it did the day we found out. In other ways, our grief has been put on hold as wave after wave of life have kept coming at us: more death, financial stresses, life decisions, sickness, etc it don't give you a break. It's when all is quiet, the moon shines in on the far wall of our bedroom and some nights I stare at it for endless hours just thinking about all that this year has brought. It's in those alone and silent moments that grief comes and reminds you that this is a process that is still going on even on the best days.
2014, you were the year that took me deeper than my feet could ever wander. New Years always start with fresh hope and big dreams. The hope we've found in the midst of suffering is a deeper and truer hope than I knew before. Nothing is certain. All we get is today. Life is crazy raising our two girls. In many ways I feel I've failed them, but I know this: they got to see our God pull me out of a deep dark place. I pray so much that He uses that for good in their lives in the years to come. I don't know if I'll ever use the phrase "I wouldn't change a thing" because if I had known how this year would have played out I would have changed a lot. Belly pictures of growing babes aren't so obnoxious, selfies can be a gift, filing a closet just to pack it away hurts, and opening your heart up to love can mean your world ends up upside down because you loved so deeply. I changed this year and it was the farthest from my dreams, but now I can say with full confidence as a tuck my scared little buddy Behr into bed that the promise that Jesus is always with us is the truth. HE NEVER FAILS AND HE WILL NEVER LEAVE.