We went to The Compassionate Friends meeting Thursday night, as is our monthly habit. Sitting at our table is another couple whose son was taken from them just a few days before we said goodbye to John Robert. Also at our table a lady who lost her son a year and a half ago. No matter where you look in that room there is a parent who has lost a child. The good thing about that meeting is hearing from those who have walked this journey without their child for decades.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy meeting. If anything, it’s a bit rough on the heart. For a few hours you can’t be distracted by your work, a new internet site, a phone call, dinner out on the town, walking around the mall. No, all of the distractions are gone and there, like a spectre in the dark, grief awaits.
Days ought to all be the same, but they’re not. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Maggy will have one less card to enjoy, one less hug and kiss. As sweet and meaningful as the rest of the Mother’s Day wishes are, the heart cannot avoid the one that is absent.
But you know we’ve experienced several special days without John Robert now. A whole year of them. Our common observation is that the anticipation of them was worse than the actual day. This afternoon my mind has been ruminating over that dreadful day when we learned that we had lost him forever. The calls that were made, the people who came by … I’m sure my memories are very foggy about that time. so what do we do on the anniversary of THAT DAY? Maggy’s idea is to spend it with family and to visit John Robert’s grave. So that’s what we’re going to do.
I really do try not to talk about our loss all the time. It is the subtext of our lives and it is hard not to mention it sometimes. This is especially true in preaching – for in that room are a lot of people who love us dearly, but they also have a list of hurts and struggles to consider. They do not need to hear about mine all the time.
I’m assured of two things at this point in the journey:
*We will never be without grief. This unwelcome guest has taken up residence in our hearts and isn’t going to go away. The pain caused by it’s presence, I’m told, will diminish … but not go away. To this point, that has been our experience.
*Moving on with life does not mean forgetting. It does mean embracing life and appreciating the joys and blessings. We are not ashamed to laugh or enjoy something. At first that felt so wrong – as if we were dishonoring John Robert by laughter or joy. Part of learning to live again is not letting our grief steal our lives away from us. If nothing else John Robert would not want that to happen.
Thanks for reading … and praying for us … as we face some difficult days. Surrounded by a beautiful church family, our own families, and friends who care … I have confidence that God is using many people to bring help and healing to our hearts.