One pre-Christmas night, while we were visiting family in MO, I went to sleep completely overwhelmed with such enormous gratitude at all the little ways that God had made Himself known in our preparations for Christmas.
From the ornaments that were found for her special Christmas tree to the t-shirts we had made for her parents and brothers…there were so many little “coincidences” that reminded us He was near and involved.
Things came together in ways that kept surprising…and comforting us.
The next morning, however, as I awoke and was staring at the ceiling, a heavy sadness descended like a lead weight on my heart when I realized that I was still subconsciously waiting for Anna to come home.
The realization that she would never again bounce into that room
wearing silly clothes and making us all laugh was a hard fact to swallow…again…and the tears were barely controllable.
It seems a funny thing, but I will even miss her complaining about having to give up her bed when people came to visit. LOL!
Every time I eat Lindor chocolates, I will remember her (sometimes I’d leave a bag in her room as a thank you for letting us sleep in her bed).
Every time I go to the mall and see the accessories stores, I will remember her trying on the necklaces and sunglasses when we shopped together last Christmas. I won’t forget all the gasps and giggles.
I was listening…watching…and I remember.
Every time I wear my tiara to book club, I will remember the one I gave her when she and her family visited our house last spring. It seemed such a minor thing at the time. I love that it made her feel special!
When I look at her photos, I thank God that she loved taking pictures of herself. LOL. She could have been a model someday…but God had other plans for her. We did not know that her time with us would be short…
but God did…and He has been providing little bits of comfort for each of us along the way as we cope with this separation from her.
It’s hard to deal with this death…so sudden…so unexpected…and I could drive myself insane with all the negative thoughts if I allow them to have the upper hand.
But what can be positive about having to say goodbye to her so soon?!
…she will not have to deal with the heartaches that come with dating.
…she is free from the angst and depression that commonly plague teenagers.
…she will never again have to grapple with exhaustion, stress, or worry.
…she now has a crown far more valuable than that little tiara she enjoyed.
Those are just a few positives that come to mind right now, I’m sure there are more!
Christmas was such a challenge this year…in so many ways. Simply shopping for groceries was emotionally draining for me…shopping for gifts seemed like a giant mountain looming ahead. I was not up to it…but even in that, God had already provided. Throughout the year we had been finding gifts for people and stashing them away in a trunk. I knew we couldn’t just skip Christmas this year…we have other children who are still alive and still worthy of our love and attention…still worthy of enjoying special moments with us. Somehow, we had to make this special. We had to put one foot in front of the other and move forward, even if we sometimes didn’t feel like it.
So I opened that trunk and dug everything out. I was so happy to find something for nearly everyone! A few gift cards and some handmade creations later and our gifts were finished.
Ooh! I have to share this story!
Among the gifts already on hand was a picture frame collage that I’d bought for Robert’s Mom & Dad in late summer (weeks before the accident). In the middle of 8 photo frames linked together is this sign: “Grandchildren are a blessing.” It was perfect!! They had exactly 8 grandchildren. : )
After the accident happened…I struggled with what to do with that wall-hanging
Oh how I struggled!
"How could I give this to them now?!" But how could I NOT give it to them? The only answer I thought I had was to simply find something else for their Christmas present!
But God would not let me push it aside. I saw it daily because it was sitting in my bedroom gathering dust. (some things never change! *grin*)
Every day I saw those words staring at me…and the whisper kept returning…each time louder until I could no longer ignore it:
“It’s still true.”
The accident did not change the truth of the phrase one iota. Grandchildren are still a blessing. God gave us Anna on purpose. Even though we will have to wait until Heaven to hug her again, she will always be a part of us. Good or bad, she always made her presence known. We will never forget her.
Something else is also true: God could have given her 15yrs on this planet to some other family. I am so thankful that she was allowed to spend her time in ours.
Embracing the concept that we each have a specific number of days allotted to us brought comfort to me…but lately I have struggled with that idea.
What if it’s not true? What if I’m making it up just to soothe myself? How can it bring lasting comfort if it’s not true?
This morning I was reading a devotional and in that piece of writing there were two scriptures that reinforce the idea of us having a certain number of days.
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
“From one man he made every nation of men,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live.”
What joy fills my heart that this is not just a theory! This is Truth! : )
Our God has always been and still is in control! We are instructed repeatedly to live and love in each moment we are given…because we don’t know how many days we have. This whole ordeal has brought that fact into the stark light of reality. I hope that we will each live and love without reservation the people we meet along the rest of our life journey. We cannot assume we have even one more breath.
The tears still surface unexpectedly at times. But tears are not evil…they are cleansing. The tears will not be stifled…I will let them fall…I will let them do their God-given purpose of washing out the heartache until the ache is no longer oppressive.
I am trying to retrain myself in how I speak of death. It seems so automatic to refer to having "lost” someone who has passed on…but it doesn’t ring true for me…she is not lost…we know exactly where she is!
I am happy for Anna…she finished her life marathon, crossed the finish line and is now dancing with unspeakable joy on the streets of Heaven! What better gift could she have been given?! She is celebrating true FREEDOM now. I can just imagine the permanent joy on her face! : )
What I mourn is the time I thought I’d have with her. I mourn that we did not live close enough to visit often…so there was not time to establish a stronger relationship. We were away so many years…and when we came back, she was no longer a little girl…she was quickly becoming a young lady. Since moving back to the States, we live close enough to visit more than just once a year or two. I had looked forward to getting to know Anna…spending time with her, sharing thoughts & dreams, giggling, dancing, and wearing our tiaras. : )
The loss of those dreams in my head could make me crazy, I’m sure. But I will not allow them to make me forget the time we did get to spend together. I don’t want the grief of what we didn’t have to overshadow the times we did have.
There have been so many tears as we walk the road of mourning but there has also been joy and laughter as we share the memories of her unique ways as well as comforting hope of being reunited with her in Heaven one day.
Goodbyes are so painful! But thankfully, the goodbyes are not permanent when we have accepted the gift of God…salvation through Jesus Christ.
It is because of that hope that Christmas meant so much more to us this year. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. Because of Christ we have hope that the end of our lives here on earth is but the beginning of our eternal lives, free of pain and death and sadness.
Our prayer for everyone we know…is that they will know that hope too. That Christ would be their Salvation and that through Him, they will find strength and grace to meet whatever trials may be ahead as we each run our life race, never knowing where our finish lines are set.