Tomorrow will be 5 years since our middle son left this earth for his heavenly home. It marks the worst day of my life. But I am certain it marks the greatest day of my son’s life; the first day of eternity with no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no more disappointment. The first day of eternal joy, satisfaction, contentment and basking in being perfectly and permanently loved by his Creator. I can rejoice in this.
I was recently reading a newsletter I receive from some missionaries we’ve known since we were teens, and in it was an account of a young husband and father being totally and miraculously healed of cancer. I was tempted, as I have been many times in the past 5 years, to be angry that someone else was healed, but my boy was taken from me. But I didn’t allow that temptation to get a foot-hold in my heart and I thanked God for healing this much-needed (I’m sure) missionary, husband and father. And as oftentimes happens, when I chose to do the right thing, God opened my heart a bit more to His divine truth and reminded me of the scripture I have quoted too many times to count:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Roman 12:15
Both are truth and both are commands, though I’ve been more focused on the latter half of that verse for the past 5 years.
I see some change in my heart, lately.
Since last Christmas, I have struggled more with this horrific loss than I have almost the entire time since he died. I thought I was going to be fine (this past Christmas) because I seemed to make it through the holidays without that gut-wrenching feeling I often have. But the day after Christmas, my heart dropped to the floor, so to speak, and I didn’t begin to ascend from that depth until just a few weeks ago, around the middle of July. It has been a long and very difficult 7 months. I’m not exactly sure what the cause of this is, but I think it has been another plumbing of the depths of the reality of our loss, our “new normal”, life without a beloved and cherished son. It is real; he really is gone; he really isn’t going to come back. It hurts like I can’t even begin to describe, though my husband did a pretty good job this morning – He told me he woke in the night feeling like a bomb had gone off in his chest, blowing a hole clear through him, and he lay there bleeding, feeling nothing but emptiness. Thankfully, he was able to go back to sleep and woke feeling better, closer to “normal”.
Five years ago today I saw my middle child for the last time alive and well. 5 years ago tomorrow, I saw him for the first time without his spirit, his body lying on a gurney in a hospital – no heartbeat, no breath going in and out, no blinking eyelids, no smirky grin I loved so. A little over 5 years ago, I had to tell my middle child good-bye, though I didn’t know at the time that I wasn’t really saying “good-bye”, but “see ya later”, subconsciously thinking it was all a very bad dream I’d soon wake from and have my son back with me. 5 years ago I was set upon a path I’d not wish on my worst enemy. It has been one of more ups and downs than I thought possible, sometimes within a few short minutes. But 5 years ago I had no inkling I could find myself having one of the hardest years, during the hardest time of my life, almost 5 years into it.
Every year, as this dreadful anniversary approaches, I determine in my heart to sort through the sacks of clothing, bedding and stuff we gathered from his apartment 3 weeks after our son passed away, before the anniversary comes. Every year it goes by, I console myself that “maybe next year” I’ll accomplish it, and once again, close my mind to the task. Such is the way it’s been this year, again. It doesn’t matter, my hubby assures me. Someday, we’ll do it. Not this year.
Sometime mid-July, I almost felt like someone had flipped a switch in my heart and the horribly heavy and sorrowful feeling I’d had since the Christmas before, lifted. It felt as though I was able to take a deep breath for the first time in many months. I relished it. I smiled, I laughed, I played with the grandchildren – all of which I’d been doing all along, but now I felt it deep in my heart as I went through the motions. This lasted for a few days, and slowly the sadness crept back in, but not to the degree it had been for the first half of this year. I’ve had lots of what I call “crying days” recently, because I can’t stop the horrifying memories from crashing my “happy party” when something as significant as the anniversary of his death approaches. But over all, since mid-July, I’ve felt a bit happier; less weighed down; better able to do ordinary everyday tasks. I don’t know if this means I’m healing or accepting the loss or what, and I don’t really care to spend any more time than I already have trying to analyze myself. I just accept that I am happier lately and go with it.
I miss my middle son more than words can say. My heart aches for the hole in my heart, my life and my family to be filled once again. But I know that won’t happen the way I desperately want it to happen. And I’m beginning to realize I will continue living despite that fact; I’m learning to live with this hole in my heart, my life and my family.
The joys, abundance and love God has bestowed on me before, during and after our tragedy continue to sustain me and keep me looking to Him. He has indeed been near to this broken-hearted mom. And I expect nothing less as time continues rolling by, day after day after day.
The change I sense going on in my heart, even though things stay much the same, is a very slow turning of my vision from my past, and all I held dear there, to my future, and whatever God has planned for me during the remaining days of my life. In this, I can rejoice.
Now, enjoy reading this notable passage from the book of Ecclesiastes, and thank you for reading my random thoughts as this weighty day comes to a close.
“A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.
The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.
It is better to listen to rebuke from a wise person than to listen to the song of fools, for like the crackling of burning thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of the fool.”
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.
Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools
Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ since it is not wise of you to ask this.
Wisdom is as good as an inheritance and an advantage to those who see the sun, because wisdom is protection as silver is protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
Consider the work of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked?
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that no one can discover anything that will come after him.”
Ecclesiastes 7:1-6 and 8-14