For Christmas I gave Tim a calendar that contained all of the special people in our lives birthdays, anniversaries, important events. I also noted a small heart on days that are anniversaries/days that can be trigger days for me or have special significance.
Talking to Em last week after Mom’s birthday about us being able to take a breath after February I sort of put together in my head why those small hearts on Tim’s calendar mattered. The calendar of my life is marked with days to look out for, anticipate, pray over, and sometimes shed tears. A calendar littered with tears…I’ll explain.
In the aftermath of early grief those days – anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, special memories – they are like a tidal wave slamming into you and taking the breath out of you. What I have found is that as time moves on you don’t quite know on those days if you are going to get a tidal wave or just a lapping at your ankles. Call me crazy but the uncertainty is almost worse.
As I have grown older the calendar has become littered with “seasons” that have nothing to do with the weather. Periods of weeks or months where the bracing for the wave or the splash is just endless. December is a bad one. February is another. And by some odd quirk of dates there is a six week period from April 24th to June 5th that marks off when Mom died (4/24), PawPaw (5/14), and Fred (6/5). The three most important people in Em and I’s lives died within three weeks of each other on the calendar – just different years.
Some would say “why not just ignore those dates if they hurt” (yes I’ve had that said to me). For me that is also the same as saying to me “why don’t you just forget them?” Sounds pretty dumb huh? But it doesn’t work like that. Ignoring pain doesn’t make it go away. It gives it power and strength. Acknowledging them, celebrating them, speaking of them – that’s where the healing begins. It’s allowing yourself to remember they loved you and you loved them.
This last anniversary of Fred and I’s wasn’t special in terms of a big number or any particular significance . He’s been gone almost six years and we would have been married for sixteen. But this year was the tidal wave. Not a bad one mind you – God brought some pretty awesome memories to the day – but a tidal wave nonetheless. It’s hard to miss someone. It’s harder still when life is moving on and you are really happy.
I heard a sermon today that the message was “I’m not done with you yet, there is more to the story”. Move forward, you aren’t finished yet. Those words lifted my heart in ways I can’t yet explain to you. But what an awesome message.
I couldn’t have said this a few years ago but what if all those tears on the calendar are just part of God’s story for me? For my kids? I’ve seen those tears shape all of us in ways I know we wouldn’t have changed on our own. If we think about our pain having a purpose does it make it easier to bear?
I’ll never stop acknowledging those special days. I know there will be additions to the calendar as I age and those that are older still leave me too. But maybe I’ve reached a point I can understand that sometimes we need the tears each year to continue to wash what hurts and clear the path of where we’re meant to go.
Blessings y’all – Amy