Never forget. We are all familiar with this phrase as it represents 9/11, and a time of great tragedy and sorrow in our world. Well, one year ago today those two words took on a different and more personal meaning for me. It was a day of tragedy and sorrow. It was the day my girl ran ahead to heaven. It’s a day which I will, never forget.
I’ll never forget where I was, what I was doing or who I was with. I remember every. single. detail of that day. I know that my dad was there to guide her safely into the arms of Jesus. One day I will share how I know this as it’s an amazing testimony to the greatest love of all – the love of Jesus and the lengths He will go to for His children.
Without a doubt, it’s been the harshest 365 days of my life. I’ve cried more tears than I thought were possible. Suffered physical illnesses and experienced symptoms that I didn’t know were conceivable due to stress. I developed crushing anxiety that on some days felt as if it would take me under from the weight of it all.
Death is hard and the loss of a child is a loss like no other on this earth.
Yet, here I am today. Still standing, still breathing, and walking this grief journey one day at a time. The tears still flow, and I expect they always will because there will never be a day I don’t miss my girl. The good news is they don’t come in the torrential, crashing waves like the tsunami they were in the earlier months, when my heart was so utterly broken. One of God’s promises I so tightly held on to is, “He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 38:14). My faith is what has sustained me and even on those days when I was crawling through the valley, Jesus was right there beside me. He never once left my side. What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned it for His good (Genesis 50:20).
The days of crushing anxiety are fewer and for that I am grateful. Sure, my mind has wandered back to the day I learned of Melanie’s death and all the horror that comes with hearing the words no parent should ever hear. There have been times I have re-lived every moment, over and over again. But today, when I think about Melanie I am choosing to look back at how I have been brought through the last 365 days of losing my only girl.
PEACE: Within the first 24 hours after learning of Melanie’s death I have felt an overwhelming, powerful, all-encompassing sense of peace that could only come from God. There is nothing and no one who can give peace like Him. “And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Phil 4:6
ENCOURAGEMENT: My Heavenly Father has encouraged and strengthened me in ways that I never felt as strongly as I do now. He delivered His words of love and reassurance deep into my spirit on so many nights. “No one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night” Job 35:10
HOPE: Even during that first and darkest night, I never once doubted where my hope and strength would come from. He is my deliverer. My hope. My strength. My rock. My promise keeper. My way maker. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” Psalm 56:8
Even the saddest experiences we go through in life can become a source of wisdom and strength once we have made peace within our hearts about it. I could write about all the sadness that surrounded the loss of my beautiful girl, but I choose to remember the good. I am choosing to remember the love. This day is not a day I wish to celebrate, but I had to acknowledge the day my girl ran ahead to heaven. For me, it was the worst day of my life. For Melanie, it was the best day of hers. I continually strive to reflect on the good that has come from a very tragic situation.
On this day, one year ago, my beautiful girl transitioned to her real home – Heaven. If you too are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will once again see your loved one. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4. I take comfort in the fact that I will get to see my daughter again one day. I look forward to wrapping my arms around her and telling her how much I’ve missed her. Until then my love for her will never end.