Saturday, May 16, 2015

A reprieve

After Matt's birthday there's been a reprieve of sorts. It's like grief gave up, relinquished the choke hold it had on us. It's been a relief, and I'm glad it's over. I think of my son every single day, but the "special" dates are extraordinarily tough ones. I am all too happy to have grief take a back seat. I couldn't have imagined the roller coaster ride ever slowing down, but, indeed, it has.

I never would have thought it, but Matt's birthday was a good day, most likely because it was spent doing Matt's 20 Random Acts of Kindness with our best friends, a family we have known for about 15 years. Our families are so close that our kids refer to themselves by a new last name which came from them combining both family names! (The Chernfields) I can honestly say there was joy on May 2nd which I never thought would be possible. Of course, there's never joy without grief, but there was joy.

This reprieve feels like a new lease, a much welcome time. It is as if I now crave joy and color in my life. I desire to have fun, to make memories, and to cherish what I have. For so long, I didn't care. I couldn't see color and had no desire to laugh. I found it difficult to truly engage in the present. And though grief is always present, it's no longer debilitating. It was once a canyon, but is now a fissure. I'm beginning to see the scar as evidence of healing. I don't like it, still wish I didn't have it, but can't deny it means I have survived.

Our wedding anniversary (Mother's Day, as well) falls closely on the heels of Matt's birthday. Needless to say, it's a week and a half of emotionally-laden days. The first few anniversaries, my husband and I just wanted to pretend the day didn't exist. We were hurting and the word "happy" wasn't in our vocabulary, much less the word "celebrate." This year, however, I secured tickets to "The Table Tour" with Steven Curtis Chapman, Ellie Holcomb, Love and the Outcome, and Brandon Heath. The concert date providentially fell on the day after our anniversary. There is nothing that ministers more to me than music (except God's word). I knew it would be a good concert, and we weren't disappointed.

I also knew Steven Curtis Chapman is a member of "the club no one wants to be a part of." What I didn't remember was that their daughter's birthday and death anniversary date were also in May. I cried through his song, "Something Beautiful." I needed to "SEE" hope, and I got it. Hope is what carries us and gives us wings. We need those wings, for with them, we shall someday, too, fly to the Father. Holding on to hope and looking for the beautiful here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

I read this the other day: A Mother's Day Letter to Grieving Moms

Wishing Mother's Day didn't exist? Yep, I definitely did wish that the first three years of this grief journey. This year, I no longer wish it, though I’m still not overly excited about it. Mother’s Day now carries grief, an “in your face” confirmation, if you will, that not ALL of my children are here with me on this day. This day is not supposed to be hard. It’s not supposed to incorporate grief. It’s supposed to be joyful, and only joyful. But it’s not, not for women who long for babies (but don’t have them) and not for women who have lost babies (no matter the age).

The loss of a child forever changes Mother’s Day. The author of the article was spot on when she wrote: "You are extraordinarily grateful that your surviving children breathe and wake up every morning yet live in constant fear that they too will be taken too soon."

We (bereaved parents) battle fear daily because our worse fears HAVE come true. Yet, because they have come true, we are also no longer under any pretense that we have any control. It is a balancing existence we find ourselves in. It also reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1: “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”

I couldn’t enjoy Mother’s Day the last several years because the grief was too great. (Still is.) But I can “enjoy” it this year because I am stronger, the grief having been absorbed, as Gerald Sittser said, “like decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am.” (A Grace Disguised: How the Soul GrowsThrough Loss) I can enjoy it because I have cultivated thankfulness. And joy is the byproduct of a thankful heart. I have joy and grief this Mother’s Day. (And will for all the remaining Mother’s Days to come.)

Mother's Day isn't what it's supposed to be. But that's o.k., because God promises us that this isn't all there is. There is more than joy. There is more than grief. There is grace. There is peace. There is hope. May Mother's Day remind you of the great love God has for you, an eternal love that lasts far beyond Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 2nd

I want to extend a sincere "Thank you" to all those who have prayed for us and participated in Matt's 20th birthday and 20 random acts of kindness today. It was a good day. It was a hard day. It was a day of redemption, a day to bless others through remembering our son. My favorite response to one of the random acts of kindness was the wonderful hug I received from a young woman at Barnes and Noble when I gave her a gift card. I had approached her because I spied the cover of her book thinking it was a Calvin and Hobbes book. (Just one of many Matt enjoyed.) She was so sweet!

We also gave a red geranium to an elderly woman at an assisted living facility. She was deeply touched. The staff told us that she spent most of her time in her room, and she commented that she would enjoy looking at it and that it was beautiful.

At the mall we gave a group of young men iTunes gift cards, and it was fun to see their genuine appreciation of the gift. It was also fun to surprise a young mom with children with a bag of spearmint starlight mints (Matt's favorite). The Cheez-it's went to a beautiful pregnant woman in the parking lot of Walmart. Two McDonald's Mocha Frappe's went to unsuspecting drive-thru customers. A t-shirt in Matt's favorite shade of blue went to the cashier at Papa Murphey's, and it was heartwarming when he replied that blue was his favorite color. Lastly, we taped a coupon for a free Redbox movie onto the Redbox rental screen and are confident the person who finds it will be pleasantly surprised.

God's grace is sufficient, His love so evident in all of your thoughts and prayers for us, and in your actions. Thank you to those who posted about your random act of kindness in Matt's memory. (No pictures even necessary, but definitely appreciated.) I know a few did donations to Trout Lake Camps, as well, and they are especially touching. Matt loved Trout Lake. It is an amazing place, a place where their slogan is true...a meeting place with God. Thank you again. We are blessed.