This is the 16th Anniversary of the day that Molly didn't wake up. I have been through this day 15 other times and each one is different. Unique with the passing of time and especially with the aging of my other children. In the beginning we would have a "Molly Meal" where we would eat only Molly's favorite foods for dinner. We would spoon Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, homemade mashed potatoes, and Cheerios onto our Wedding china. That was all we would eat. It worked for several years, and then the children grew older and one year they looked at their plates and said, "Where's the chicken?" They had outgrown the "Molly Meal".
When we lived near the cemetery there were years we could go there and visit Molly's grave. The kids would choose a toy from their room to be able to leave something for Molly. It was very sweet to watch them struggle at first with the idea of giving up a Happy Meal toy while they looked around their rooms and then to see the transformation when they arrived at the grave sight. They were eager to place it on the headstone in the perfect spot and to now go home without it. My mind's eye still sees my elder son very clearly, bending down to kiss the headstone of his little sister before we loaded back into the minivan. But, life has gone on without this little 19-month-old Angel, and now there are no more Happy Meal toys in the rooms.
Then there was the awful year that I forgot to get sad. It was a Sunday morning and I was busy getting my children ages 9, 7 and 4 ready for church (being married to a Pastor meant that on Sunday mornings I was a "Single Mom"). I was so frantic in our grooming that I didn't catch the "date". I made my way into the sanctuary, with the church bulletin in hand and settled into the service. Then I looked at the bulletin and there was the date. January 31, 1999. I jumped up and practically ran to the Ladies room, holding in tears of shame. One of my closest friends followed me (Don't you love women?) and was ready to know. To help. To listen. I was so overwhelmed with grief and shame. I felt like the worst mother alive. How could I have forgotten the date? She had only been gone for 4 years and I had lost her date in the shuffle of our lives! My sweet friend looked at me lovingly and told me the truth. She explained that this date was forgotten because I was a GOOD Mom. I was concerning myself with the lives of the living children in my home. This pleased God and would certainly have pleased Molly.
Yesterday I got a text message from my husband telling me that he was struggling and asking me to pray for him. He was thinking about Molly, he said. Fortunately, I was doing well, I was aware of the approaching date and I had been expressing my grief through this outlet of writing--I wasn't afraid of what this anniversary might hold. Yes, I was doing so well actually that I was able to remind him of the encouraging truths about where she is and how much God loves us.
That was yesterday.
Today, I woke and within two minutes wished I hadn't. I stayed in bed too long with the covers pulled up over my head. When I finally couldn't fake sleep any longer, I reached for my phone and sent my husband this text message: "Everything hurts"
I knew that I should really be reaching for my bible to find comfort in the Psalms. I knew that if I would just say those words in the form of a prayer that God would help me get through this day. But, I refused.
Now, please understand, I don't like pain and I do trust God. I promise. It's just that sometimes the pain is so deep that I don't even want to feel the edge of it. It's like handling a razor blade. One wrong move and I could lose a finger. If I allow myself to feel, then I am going to feel everything. And everything hurts.
I continued my morning routine of shower and coffee and stayed away from my Bible with busyness of housework. However, because I am insanely A.D.D., blow drying my hair is akin to being duct taped to a chair and staring at a blank wall, so I decided to "go online" while I used the dryer. (Yes, I really do this--often.) I started with my friend's blog 365 Days of Prayer. Words so sweet, my heart was touched as I longed for her faithfulness. Everything I believe about who God is was affirmed and I felt God whisper to me..."Do you think I can't find you, Jackie? Did you think I wouldn't pursue you on a day like today?" But, I dried my tears and continued to pull back into myself and away from His plan for today.
I went to my email and I opened the first message which was an update from the Women of Faith blogsite I began to read these words from Marilyn Meberg:
"Whether they surface frequently or rarely, we all have strong feelings that impact us, causing tears to spring up unexpectedly, sending grief sweeping over us “out of nowhere,” or pushing us to behave in specific ways. By studying these feelings and by remembering back to the events and issues that sparked them, we gain understanding that helps us cope."
My heart leapt, I may have even gasped, and then...tears. Lots of tears. When I had calmed myself down I grabbed onto the next line:
"The fact is, the human psyche can withstand almost any assault if we can find purpose in our lives in spite of that assault."