A year ago this past week our life changed forever. While it is indisputable that the parents we know and love will eventually die, at our age I think it’s normal to assume or expect that they’ll still be around a while. And when they do pass on, we hope we’ll know it’s coming and have the chance to say goodbye.
When Chris’ dad didn’t return from his hunting trip last January, I waited for the logical explanation. His mom and I prayed on the phone and talked to pass the time as the evening got later. I was certain, in my optimism, that he’d pull in her driveway any minute. Logical answers didn’t come and neither did his dad. As I watched my husband throw warm clothes on and packed him food for the long drive to join the search, fear crept in. I hugged him long and hard and tried not to cry.
I tucked kids in their beds and started to ponder the possibilities. My sister, then pregnant with my niece, offered to come over and sit with me. I did what I tend to do and said no, that I was sure I’d be fine and everything would be okay. Two hours later, past midnight I said yes, please come. She tucked herself into my bed and we sat. We waited as sleep eluded us. We prayed in silence. Mine sounded more like pleading, begging for just two things…..Let his dad be okay….If he’s not okay, please don’t let Christopher be the one who finds him. I whispered and whimpered the same prayers all night long. My sister had to leave in the morning to get back to her son.
And shortly after she did, a five word text message (that was the only way he could communicate with me at the moment) told me that both my prayers had gone unanswered. It was the most gut wrenching moment of my life.
The ache that followed for all of us was unbearable, we were overtaken by the shock of loss. The hole that had been blasted open in one moment was a gaping one.
People cared for us and loved us in every imaginable way in those following days. My parents who’d been at my ill grandmother’s bedside, not expecting her to live, were across the country. They flew home immediately. Incapacitated completely, I watched in a cloud as other people stepped in and ran life for me.
The months that followed were walked out in a tender, raw way. We both knew that our hearts were in pieces and we could not tolerate harsh words or bursts of anger – so there simply were none. We process loss in very different ways so we held one another with mutual respect and did our best to let each walk the journey as needed. We’re still doing that because it just seems the only way.
It was in those months, knee deep in grief, that I began this gratitude list on Monday’s. As I questioned my faith and really the very nature of God for the first time in my adult life, I began to read a blog that pointed my heart in a different direction. I took her challenge to join in and to start keeping track of what I could choose be grateful for.
#339 – learning how to say yes to help
#340 – resolving that there will be some questions left unanswered for the rest of my life
#341 – the beauty of memories
#342 – the sovereignty of God in all things at all times
#343 – the extra year my grandma was gifted (and the gift it was to all of our family in turn)
#344 – living out the choice to embrace the small moments of greatness
#345 – how it feels to be loved well
#346 – the way tears cleanse the soul
#347 – the way pain can open your heart to so much more love when you let it