It’s so hard to believe we are already heading into late January. Where does the time go? Since Melanie ran ahead to heaven the concept of time means something entirely different to me now. I have a much greater appreciation of time, especially time spent love ones.
As unbelievable as it seems I am nearing the end of my “Year of Firsts” and am feeling reflective. Somehow I made it through the birthdays and then what I dreaded most – the holidays. If you were anything like me, I spent weeks and weeks in high anticipation of what the holidays were going to be like for us this year. Considering it would be the first ones without my girl it wasn’t anticipation in the happy, positive way Carly Simon sings about. No, instead it was the overwhelming, nerve-wracking, anxiety-filled type of anticipation. What would these holidays be like knowing we wouldn’t hear Melanie’s voice or see her smile? She had run ahead to heaven and we were all left here. What would she be doing there? Would she be able to see us, hear us, or know that we missed her? I comforted myself knowing she would be in heaven with Jesus, the reason for this season. How amazing must that celebration be?!
Many months before Thanksgiving arrived I began to wonder how I’d survive knowing she was in heaven and not here with us. On top of that due to Covid we weren’t sure our son and daughter-in-love would be able to join us since they live in another state. I anguished over this and let it eat away at me for weeks which eventually turned into months. Anguish and anticipation over Every. Little. Thing! I wanted to climb into bed and wake up on December 26th!
Well, friends, guess what? We made it! We somehow managed to survive the entire holiday season! I’m still standing. Still breathing. Still holding tight to The One who helped make the way straight. Yes, it was quieter, definitely more sad than years past, but we celebrated the 2020 way – via Zoom! I shed tears several times throughout the day as I remembered the beautiful Christmas we had together the year before when Melanie was with us and we were all together. This was also my first birthday without my girl. Two firsts at once. Sigh.
Now here I am once again beginning to feel the familiar rumbles of anguish and anticipation knocking at the door to my heart. My reprieve was brief as this started again right after I made it through Christmas. I found myself starting to move into that high alert, heavy anticipation mode as the silent countdown of the next and last “First” approaches.
In less than 4 weeks my daughter will have been in heaven for 1 year!! How did that happen? Some days it feels like she was just here sitting at the big island in my kitchen talking about her hopes and plans for the future. Dreams that will never be realized.
As I’ve been praying about this first angelversary, I began to think about what I just walked through now that the 2020 holidays are behind me.
I realized that the anticipation of what was coming was much more difficult than the actual day itself.
I let that settle deep into my spirit, and then asked the Lord to continue to hold my wounded heart close and give me that same undeniable peace that he has covered me with over the last 11 months. Other grieving parents have asked me how I am managing to walk this grief journey with such strength? I’m not always strong. Hardly. I take it one moment, one hour, one day at a time, but the main reason I’m able to walk this path is because of my faith in Jesus. My hope is in Him. My Rock. My fortress. Just because 365 days will soon be approaching doesn’t mean I’ve arrived. Grief never ends. I am discovering it becomes a part of who you are. Some days are better than others, then there are those days which are more like a wet, heavy blanket. Whether I’m making my way to the mountain top or down in the valley I’m confident my God isn’t going to fail me.
As I look forward on the calendar to that day that changed the course of this mother’s heart and life, I’m so grateful that we will all be able to be together as a family during this time of remembrance. A mother, father, brother, and son, remembering our beautiful Melanie with all the love we have. So, for now, I’m going to do my best to chase away the anticipation and anguish of re-living the day she went to heaven and hold on tight to The One who continues to hold me.