I’ve found many times it’s the days leading up to a milestone day of grief (birthday, anniversaries, holidays, etc) that tend to make me an emotional roller coaster. But once the day actually arrives, I guess because of prayers and the grief work done the week preceding, the day turns out not as awful as anticipated. Sometimes.
It’s the not knowing that makes it hard. I won’t know until I wake up on that day whether I will need emotional support, self-care or just go through the motions.
Six years ago last night inspiration struck me as I was heading to bed. I felt an overwhelming urge to write my husband a note that he would find with his keys in the morning. I scribbled on the back of the first thing I could find, a bright orange piece of junk mail, “Thank you for working hard for Caroline and I. We love you.”
I had no idea it would be my last words to him before he entered heaven eight hours later after his car hit a freak, icy patch on an overpass just a mile from our home.
Some dear friends went back to his vehicle a few days after the accident and retrieved that note for me. I cannot describe how much it meant to me that I was able to give him loving words as a goodbye. It gave me a bit of peace in the nightmare that I still cherish to this day.
Words we leave for people are powerful and my first-hand knowledge is the fuel behind this blog.
Since the funeral in January of 2009 I had only gone back to the cemetery for other funerals. In December of the same year we were there for my dear friend’s four year old daughter’s funeral after a short battle with cancer. I did not have a desire to go back.
I knew I should visit, place flowers, but honestly in my head I told myself they weren’t really there, and in my heart I was scared of the grief I might experience there with my precious kids in tow.
Taking them to visit was the responsible thing to do. I couldn’t avoid the topic of what cemeteries were forever, although I tried. I did not want my avoidance of the place to become a topic for their therapy sessions as adults so I knew I had to bite the bullet.
I had dreaded the moment for five and a half years. Crazy I know, but grief will do that to you.
A few months ago, I knew the day had come, I felt the tension building and I had prayed hard about how it would go. We were putting on our shoes to get in the car when I received sweet assurance from God as a dear friend texted me out of the blue that God had placed me on her heart at that moment.
Praise God for His love.
And when we arrived? The nervous knot in my stomach drifted away as we walked over to his marker which represents his life to those who visit.
It was so very quiet, not another soul to be seen. We reached the place of so much pain for me, but the words left for us on his stone brought so much life.
Thomas’s parents went to great lengths to capture him in words. They did an amazing job.
As our son Thomas innocently ran with abandon around the open spaces Caroline grabbed my hand and said, “It’s so peaceful.”
That’s when I felt the healing tears come.
The day I dreaded for years turned out to be a gift.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Phil 4:6 MSG
Thank you God for reminding me to not worry about the future; most of the time our worries never come to fruition. And we can never imagine the provision you’ll have waiting for us as you meet us in the day.
I think about the importance of our words and their effect on people constantly. I fret and pray before every post I write. Even before pushing “send” on a text or email or posting something on Facebook or Twitter, I think if I died suddenly what will those last words be that my family and friends will read? (Yes, I’m a bit morbid at times; it’s just how I’m wired.)
Will it be me complaining about something frivolous? Inspiring? Mean-spirited? Encouraging?
What is the last thing you’ve written? Do you believe there’s power in words?