I have started and stopped so many blog posts recently that turned out to be messages to myself, working at helping me forgive, let go and continue to move through life. I still need to talk, though. I still need a caring and compassionate, if not understanding, ear. I still need people who really care about me and my family, and who really want to listen, to help me dispel the lies that other not so compassionate and caring people have spoken to me. It makes me feel like a weakling to even say that, but that is how I feel. So that is what I’m saying.
Six years ago this past weekend, all of our kids came to our house on Father’s Day, which was also my birthday, to grill hamburgers and hot dogs, and make homemade onion rings and all the yummy side-dishes that go along with that meal. All of our kids. Not 4 of the 5 children my husband and I brought into this world, but all of them. It was the last time all of us got together as a family and had a meal together.
Though I’ve experienced a great amount of healing in regards to the horrendous loss of our middle son five-and-a-half years ago, days like these past couple of days still bring a sting to life that leaves me an emotional mess; an up-and-down, emotions-all-over-the-place mess. But I’ve learned that the easiest and quickest way to get through days like these is to let them happen, and not condemn myself over the lack of productivity or messy emotions. Fortunately, I’m married to the most caring and understanding man in the world, so he is right there with me, helping me let me be me.
I talked with my son in heaven last night – not out-loud, but never-the-less, talked with him. I told him how much I miss him. I told him, again, how much I love him and am proud of him. I reminded him (and myself) that I will see him again. All of these things I tell him (out loud) every time I visit his grave. But last night, I let myself really tell him. I let myself see him, hear his voice, feel his presence. I let myself stroll casually through the memory of the last time he came over, the afternoon before he died the next morning. I heard his “Hi, Mom”, I felt his arm across my shoulders, I smelled his unique scent and felt his ribs when I squeezed his side in response to his warm greeting. I can’t often let myself do that without having a crying jag. But after a day I call a “crying day” yesterday, I guess I was cried out enough to go there and enjoy the memory.
In the past few weeks, both my girls, in separate conversations, have told me they think I’m “waking up”. I’m coming out of a long, dormant, grief-riddled sleep, if you will, and am seeing life again. For the first time in five-and-a-half years I actually think I feel like I want to live. Not just that I think I can survive another day by putting one foot in front of another, but that I want to continue getting up and putting one foot in front of another. It is an interesting sensation after such a long time of having to choose to keep on keeping on. (Now I have to say that every time I tell someone that I’m getting better, I end up crying for several days. Just so you know that is probably coming down the pike!)
The most interesting (and relieving) thing to surface as I’ve begun to realize I actually want to live again is my love for Jesus. Before my son died, I would often say how much I’ve always loved Jesus, and I’ve always felt a close relationship with Him. But when Izzy died, it felt like my relationship with Jesus died along with him. Conversely, though, my relationship with my Heavenly Father took precedence in a way I’d never experienced it. He became my constant comforter, never leaving my side, even on days I was so angry with Him I wouldn’t speak. I was (and am) oh-so-thankful for His presence, but also baffled by my discomfort, so to speak, with His Son, Jesus. But I’ve become aware, in the past several months, of a renewed sense of Jesus’ presence in my life. And I welcome it. I’m not sure it’s actually any different than it ever was, but more likely, I have let go of the feeling that He betrayed me. Either way, I welcome Him and appreciate His presence in my life more than I can say.
I’ve been, as I said above, strolling through some memories the past couple of days, enjoying their warmth, along with the sting of knowing they are the last of their kind. I remember, of course, that last birthday/Father’s Day when all our children and grandchildren came out and grilled for us. It was a very special day, even not knowing it would be the last. Here’s a picture of our son, who is now in heaven, grilling on the grill he made himself, as my husband and 3 of our other children look on and visit on our newly constructed (though not quite finished) back porch.
I love this next picture because it has all of my children, my husband, and two of our four grandchildren in it. From the left: our oldest, Kimberly, holding her youngest, Rowan on her chest; Joseph, our oldest son; Timothy, our youngest son; Elizabeth, our youngest; Addison (leaning on the table), our oldest daughter’s middle daughter; my husband, Dan, and in the forefront, our middle son, Israel Thomas, who now resides in heaven.
I remember the chatter, the most cherished sound on earth to me, that sweet day. I remember the smell of the oil as Joe fried onions for us. I remember the oil dripping onto the newly set decking, hoping I would be able to remove the stain it was leaving. I remember the picture someone took of all of us sitting around the picnic table, Dan and I staring at our phones! Joe commented on it on Facebook that I gave all of them (my kids) orders to stay off their phones while at Mom and Dad’s house, and we got caught staring at ours!
And so, my sweet son in heaven, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – I miss you. On this day, my last birthday in my 50’s, I think of you and all the amazing blessings God has given me over the course of this life. I remember your meek and quiet, though mighty spirit; your kind and loving heart; your quick wit and ability to verbally put one in his or her place with a word. I know on this day you would text me a “happy birthday”, like all your siblings already have, and I would cherish it. I know I will see you again, and it will probably be sooner than it feels like it will be now.