Yesterday we went to the cemetery. We always go on Mother’s Day and Joshua’s birthday, and then as much as we are able throughout the year. We went to the cemetery after visiting our friends who are dealing with fresh grief right now. They are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. My heart breaks for the devastating situation they are going through right now. We have old grief. Old grief is like a covered wound. It is concealed and on the surface okay, but can be ripped open at any time and be flooded with pain. The thing about old grief, though, is that even though pain comes, your tolerance for it builds. The words our friends said were verbatim to words I have said since we lost Joshua…it is interesting how God gives us similar wisdoms to get through trials. “…a new normal.” “…pain won’t go away but will be manageable.” “…it is really real.” “…life shouldn’t keep going when ours is stopping.” The events they are going through this week brought back our events like they happened yesterday. (I am not saying they are the same, not saying the pain or grief is the same, just saying we both grieved for loved ones).
So with their words swimming in my head with my own recollections I was flooded with memories of our loss. I remembered thinking I couldn’t pinpoint which day was the hardest in my life…the day we said goodbye at the hospital…the day we had to choose a headstone and floral arrangement for a baby…or the day when life had to continue and he really couldn’t be with us. I recalled standing at his gravesite after the funeral before he was buried. The men that were to bury him were waiting for us, I knew. They kept their respectful distance, but just knowing they were waiting made my skin crawl a little. I remembered memorizing Joshua’s features in the hospital, because I knew, sadly, that reality and time would make those memories fade, so I studied him and memorized him …not just his pictures. I remembered how my husband stood by my side and held me up through everything. I remembered looking back and being so grateful for the shock so I could get through the week. I think shock is a gift from God. I remembered feeling guilty the first time I smiled after he was gone. In my remembering, I also remembered the rays of light that came through this time too. Multitudes of amazing support from family and friends, God’s unfailing love giving us hope and strength, sweet memories, a way to support others in the future. Joshua’s life has touched many. We celebrate that he is with our Lord and Savior even though we miss him. We try to teach the kids that as well, as we often decorate his spot with balloons and each child takes his/her own toy to leave there…sometimes we even picnic there. Grief is hard, but often produces beauty on the other side.
As Mother’s Day was approaching on the radio and at church I often heard how difficult it would be for some…I already knew that…having friends and family who are not able to have children, knowing others who have lost moms or children…but I was pleased that they were remembered. I found it interesting that those who lost mothers were mentioned and those who couldn’t have children, but not those who lost children(in what I heard). I was not in the least offended…truly…I think it is because it is just not as common…it is just not how we think the world is supposed to work. Thankfully we are not as smart as God and His plan is perfect!
I have always been one to enjoy parties, holidays, birthdays, celebrations. But…this year at various events I realized that all these “fun” days always leave someone feeling sad. Birthdays are hard for the ones who haven’t met goals. Mother’s Day can be hard for moms (or women who want to be moms) and children…Father’s Day can be hard for dads (or men who want to be dads and children). At each holiday someone may be missed or someone could hold regret. I am certainly not boycotting holidays and celebrations, but perhaps being challenged once again to make the most of each person in my life each day. I should celebrate my loved ones everyday! They are not just blessings on their birthdays or holidays…they are blessings the whole year through.