Christmas Sweaters, Sheep Hats, and Songs Unsung.

Most of my days are filled with busyness. My photography business is thriving in this season. My job keeps me busy with community stuff. We/I are surrounded by an extensive circle of friends and family. I’ve not written much over the last few weeks. Its very hard sometimes to convey the thoughts and pondering of a grieving parent. The holidays are filled with wonder and magic…grief although not part of the Christmas story it’s those early memories of birth and life that make the holidays at times so hard. This is our third Christmas without Evan and although softer the edges are still rough. https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-made-you-cry-holiday-season/?fbclid=IwAR0hPT1OGomkWkK62J4EhRx34Kk84rWyPtbEGKudH5z84wR-t7jLkBSqN_4

Some of the sweet memories of long ago Christmas’ are not very fresh in my mind. It’s not until I go to a sweet school program and see children dressed in their holiday bests does the rush of memories return. Most days I can be present with friends who are enjoying seeing their kiddos perform the best and sweetest Christmas tunes. But in those moments the file cabinet opens, and the files start flying out. With that, I’m immediately ushered to a Christmas program from Pre-School or Kindergarten days with my boys. It was always something that was important to us to be at our kids' programs. Wise man costumes, Christmas sweaters, sheep hats and so much more. Most of my ponderings are melancholy. I miss those days and on some level miss that for Evan I will never see these kinds of days played out with his kiddos. That the planet will not see songs sung by Evan’s kiddos. Yes, this is what this grieving mom thinks. I’m not alone in this thought. We miss the future, and we look to hold on to the past. Holidays are sticky that way especially when you have memories that are tied to traditions, and you’ve not started new ones cause it’s too painful to change the one thing you miss so much. We are trying new things and seeing what works and tweak them as we go. Maybe the thing that makes my heart sing and cry is that I choose to be present with friends who currently are experiencing these great moments. I see the love they have for their child and the special way their heart sings when they see their kiddo perform. It takes me back to those moments and just for a split second I’m transformed to that time in history when I too had a heart that sung and burst with love for my kiddos as they performed.

Glimpses of Me

For me, it seems that most days are not without some degree of sadness. I try hard to be who I was before Evan died and at times I think that person is still there. Grief has a way of changing who we once were. Oh, I see glimpses of her….some of those glimpses are good some of them not so much. All of the same hurts, insecurities, simple pleasures and wonders are present but all of them are now sifted through grief. I have watched people and places that have always been solid places for me begin to disappear before me. As I learn more about this journey none of this is unusual. It is actually very common. People scatter….places that held happy memories become a wound that is often times too large to bandage. The very things that you thought you knew are now vague memories or are completely forgotten. 

Not too long ago I was explaining to a dear friend through tears that there is something in me….it almost feels like I’m expectant…edgy…watching but with this restlessness in me I want to see progress…I want to push. She said that it sounded similar to that of a mother birthing a child. There you have it. That is exactly how I’m feeling. It’s hard for me to rest..to practice pausing…waiting…to lean in. I’ve been listening to a lot of worship music since Evan’s death. Some of my favorites are Elevation Worship. The words are so powerful. I read an article about their song “There is a Cloud” and the meaning of the song. Such a great article I've included the link here. http://www.newreleasetoday.com/article.php?article_id=2112

One of the many verses they talk about is Hebrews 11:1. "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." I’ve included one of the verses of the song in this post. This is from Elevation Worship “There is a Cloud”.

On this Day....One year ago

Today November 9th, 2017 is the 365th day of not having you on the planet.  As I look back over the days leading up to this I'm amazed at how the Lord prepared me. Our community would spend days petitioning God for a miracle...to give you life but instead the miracle was that you would give life to others. That selfless act is so much a part of who you are and of the people that you associate with. I remember the hours and moments as they ticked away and we waited for them to come and take you to the operating room. They came to your room at 2:14am and I see so vividly all of us walking you to the door of the operating room and of us standing in a huddled clump, Dad, Alex and I.... with all of our friends watching us watching you. What I remember the most is the silence. Almost as if at that moment the world had forgotten it's voice. A silent cry. Not a sound was made. All I could hear were our tears. We asked Dr. Gaborko if he would go with you...as a prayer covering and a witness that you would be watched over. I can honestly say that knowing he was going in with you gave us peace.  Jeff's kindness to us was a selfless act and one we can never repay. The other thing I remember is looking back at all of the people who stayed till the end and seeing their faces. Such brokenness. So many tears. I shall not forget those moments...never ever. Letting you go was so, so hard. Even to write this brings great big tears.

Oh, how we miss you. The thing that is hardest is your voice. I can't hear it. Your ridiculous laughter is silent. Your words live on only to be read in a voice that is not yours. Most days we do what we have always done. We wake up, drink coffee, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. Time has marched on and the seasons have changed and the world has not stopped. We have not stopped. I'm one year older, we still wonder about the holidays and what we will do, we still talk about life and truly most days I still feel your presence. Maybe it's the familiar things that make you seem close...my daily journeys to Peet's where I keep expecting you in the afternoon to come up behind me and say "Hey! Mom!"...maybe it's driving by Best Buy and thinking of all the time you spent there and the holidays you missed because of the craziness of the seasons...maybe it's the train at the Nut Tree that for years we spent EVERY WEEKEND during your train faze as a young child...maybe it's the sound of your friends at our house to commemorate a birthday or to just play a card game...or maybe it's what I see through my lens that brings me into close proximity to your presence...the more familiar the location the closer you are to me....I'm learning to look for the things that the Lord is showing me because that's where you are....with that said you're missed...every day by us. 

I know you would be proud of us for putting one foot in front of the other....for pressing forward. Looking back only to remember with fondness and a little bit of angst. Today we will celebrate you with the thing you loved most....A Poetry Slam! to honor you and to keep a bit of who you are alive in our hearts. To celebrate a life lived and loved well and one that gave the gift of life to others. 

 

The Middle

Last week at my Grief Share meeting the subject was "Why?" As you might guess that is the biggest question that people who are experiencing grief ask themselves. One of the many takeaways from this section of the study was that we are in "the middle of the story". That in the middle of the story God is after the "deeper things". Another point that I really loved was that we should live in the exclamation point, not in the question mark. I know your reading this and it all might sound trite but for those of us who are living with the questions these things help us to move towards healing and help us to lean into the things we don't understand to look for the deeper things.

I'm learning to allow the longing, the missing as some want so much for me to be ok. For the most part, I am OK. I'm sad and part of that sadness is that I want to talk about Evan. I want you to know him like I did. I want to remember the good, the bad and the often crazy/zany person he was and will always be. I'm learning that my response is true and that my journey is unique to me. I don't have to run to catch the next train so to speak. I'm learning the "pause" or the "middle" as I move in grief. I'm looking for the opportunities to see Jesus and what He is doing in the "middle". I want to see the beauty in the "pause". To capture the essence of what it allows me to learn about myself and about the journey I'm on. Evan so much love has come from this tragedy I very much hope that you knew how much you were loved by so many. It's crazy! As for me, we are solid. There aren't any questions about that with us. We spoke of it often our feelings and there's great comfort in that. Doesn't make the missing easier just makes it bearable. I'm so grateful for your words that you gave so freely to not only me but a host of others. How blessed we are to have that. 

So much about this seems hollow...hollow in that I never thought this would be our family journey. I often think about why did I never see you beyond the life that you lived. I never saw you married or with children. Maybe that was just the future that was not to be in my mind. I don't know and now it doesn't really matter cause that just makes it more painful to think of the loss of that dream for you or should I say my dreams for you. Instead, I look hopefully towards the future that God has for me...as I wait in the "middle" the "pause". 

Road Noise

As I continue down the road of grief I am struck by the things that take me from such great joy to weepy tears. I'm not even sure how to quantify it or give it a number on a scale. I spend a lot of time reading and listening to books. As I've shared in other posts I am listening to a book on Heaven and a book on waiting. Both of these areas in my life have been a struggle. Kinda like that kid that wants to be president at the place that they work even before they learn how to count back change at the register.  As I've said in previous blogs Heaven has always been abstract to me and because my faith points me to Jesus and the bible I don't really want to speculate about it. I want to know what the bible says as that is foundational...my center. On top of reading/listening to many books I am attending a faith-based small group on grief called Grief Share.  All these things keep me a float...keep me moving...processing. They keep me reaching out to grasp what is really not something you can grasp. So what it does is give me strength. It gives me Faith to look beyond what I can see and it gives me Hope that what I think and believe are Truth and that at some point it will bring peace and understanding. 

Roads are a funny thing. I've spent most of the summer on the road either on the east coast or west coast but always on the road. I went on a road trip this last weekend and we had times on this trip where the highway was smoothly paved. The road noise was minimal. You could hear the stereo in the car without having to crank it up and the skies were clear....smooth sailing so to speak. We then had places where the road was so rough from years of weather and chains from vehicles that you could not even hear yourself think. You couldn't hear the radio. You couldn't even have a conversation as the noise in the car was so loud and storms that nearly blinded you as you drove down country roads in the dark. Sometimes you turn down a road that you think is the right one and all of a sudden you are at a dead end. You make a plan that you are going to leave at a certain time. You stop just to get food and go to the bathroom no extra stops just to realize it took you about the same amount of time as it did when you enjoyed the journey. Stopped and looked at the sights. Made memories and took your time.

I share all of this because grief is very similar to the road trips I've been on and to be perfectly honest life is this way as well. It takes me to places I didn't want to go. Sometimes I enjoy where I'm going and the effects of it leave me refreshed and my burden is lightened. Sometimes the noise is so loud I can't hear what is being said to me and I zone out. Sometimes I just want to get home...to do it my way. I forget about all the beauty that is around me and if I had just stopped...walked around...and practiced pondering I would have gotten home in just the right amount of time and enjoyed the journey.

Evan, we love and miss you so very much. Every memory is bittersweet and filled with the what if's and why not's. As I travel this road I hope to have less of those questions but for now...It is September and that means that you have been gone 10 months....but really it is for eternity.    e·ter·ni·ty  əˈtərnədē/ ~  noun ~ infinite or unending time. 

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Watching a wedding through the eyes of our son.

The day after our 27th wedding anniversary in July we had the honor of helping with and celebrating a dear family friend wed his beloved. It was fun, it was emotional, and it felt like family. It started days earlier for me and several other friends as we helped to prepare for this event. I am always so impressed with when a call goes out for helping hands that the Lord always provides what is needed. From prepping flowers, to gathering ice for the beverages...everyone came together and it made for a happy and joyous day for our friends. 

We have known Brock for most of his life as he and my son Alex have been on the soccer field from the time they were in elementary school. So many great memories of days gone by shuffling Alex, Brock and a bunch of their buddies to soccer games and school functions. It was a great day for all who joined and we are grateful to have been included. 

One of the most precious moment...was watching Brock and his brothers. Brock is the youngest of three and their love for each other and their parents really is a testament to them as a family. I had the privilege to watch this wedding through the eyes of my son Alex. I know in some ways it was melancholy for him as he must wonder about his own wedding and what will that look like for him. I can't speak to what he was feeling or thinking but I pray that the memories and love that he and Evan shared will be enough to sustain him when he does walk through the many life events he will experience. That the love of our family will keep him upright and looking forward. That the friends and relationships that have been the cornerstone of our lives will be what give him courage and strength.

For now I'm grateful for the tribe that God has given us and I am thankful to have shared just a small part of the journey that Brock and Kiana will venture down. So much love coming your way...The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

 

We love you and Best Wishes!!

Hiding in the Cave.

Tonight our family had the honor of watching my son, from another mother, preach his first message. It was from Psalm 57 about David hiding in a cave to escape as his enemies pressed in from all sides. So much truth in all that you expressed tonight. We are so proud of you and how you are walking out your calling. I share in your suffering just as you have shared in ours. I loved the truth you spoke of when you said when you are in the cave...lean into the Lord. He is there. Love that so much. 

As it says in Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." I'm glad that Evan is a part of that cloud of witnesses. So very proud of you and for now I will rest in the cave. We love you all so much and pray always for you. 

P.S. Get to church y'all!!!