Friday, January 29, 2016

4 1/2 years and 29 things

If you've been around the blog a bit, you know that the number 29 is significant. Thankfully, it no longer encompasses the fiery pain it once did when grief was new. My journey with grief began July 29, 2011 with the sudden loss of our 16 year old son, our firstborn. The 29th of each month was agonizing, a day to just bear through, to somehow endure each minute until the day would mercifully end.

Several years later, I am no longer thrown into the pit of grief on the 29th of each month. Fridays are no longer accompanied by dread, and the counting of calendar months no longer at the forefront. Grief has become a shadow, a quiet companion, a dormant fellow.

At least, most days.

Most days except these "significant" ones. Today marks 4 1/2 years without my son. My chest feels heavy, and I have fought back tears daily for two weeks. The roller coaster of grief took a plunge this week, leaving me breathless.

I haven't seen my son in 4 1/2 years. I haven't touched him, hugged him, talked to him, or kissed him in 4 1/2 years. I haven't seen him grow and mature. I am hit anew with horror, still in disbelief that he is gone, that it has been four and a half years. I wonder if I will ever stop counting the years and half-years. I doubt it, for what parent ever stops counting how old their child is? It matters not whether their child is here or in heaven, we count.

The dance with grief is all too familiar by now. I have learned the steps well. I know how to push through, how to swallow the lump that precedes the tears because the current of life sweeps swiftly by, plucking me from the temptation to wallow on grief's shore.

At least, most days.

Most days, I can decline grief's dance card. But there are some days, like today, where I trip over the steps, stumbling on the feet of my partner Grief.

But I refuse to let him lead for too long.

Just as God determines to redeem "the years the locusts have eaten," I intend to redeem joy from this wasteland of child loss, I don't get a choice in my circumstances, but I do get a choice in how to respond. I get to choose whether to be bitter or better. I get to choose to trust God, that He will someday bestow "a crown of beauty instead of ashes." I get to decide what I will plant in the ashes. Will I plant hope, faith, and love?

Grief and love, indeed, run deep for my son. But it is love that conquers, for it is stronger than death. Love will always strive toward the light. Today, like every day, love wins. Today, the 29th, I choose to give thanks for 29 things.

I am thankful for:

  1. God's faithfulness
  2. hope
  3. joy
  4. peace
  5. grace 
  6. forgiveness
  7. mercy
  8. blessings in the midst of sorrow 
  9. God's Word
  10. comfort
  11. God's presence
  12. the ministry of music
  13. the promise of heaven & life eternal
  14. friends & family who continue to walk beside us in this journey and grant us grace
  15. sweet & precious memories
  16. photographs & videos
  17. the dear women, my sisters, of "the club no one wants to be a part of"
  18. Jesus and His sacrifice
  19. love
  20. laughter
  21. tears
  22. life
  23. cardinals
  24. healing
  25. faith
  26. creation
  27. books
  28. computers/writing
  29. Matt