How is it that time can zoom by and inch by all in the same season? I often wonder. Our family has made it through another holiday season. Christmas is particularly difficult for me. Matt and I shared our birthday so it is still odd and somehow lonely in a way to celebrate my birthday without him here...even with a room full of my family. It has amazed me over the last 4 years how grief and joy can coexist.
It surprised me again today. I was cleaning out my cluttered desk drawer and came across a thumb drive. I slid it into my computer and clicked on the file, "celebration", wondering what celebration I had tucked onto a thumb drive only to leave it in my drawer. The file opened to Matt's celebration of life service. I found myself listening to the words of many who loved Matt and knew him well. I was smiling and feeling a heavy weight on my chest. Tears started to drift down my cheeks as I watched our pastor from Texas remind the people at the gathering that " it is better to go to a funeral than to a party....since death is the destiny of everyone, the living should take this to heart." (Ecclesiastes 7:2) I struggled to listen over the chaos in the house but was extremely grateful for his words that were spoken almost 4 years ago. My mind and heart went to my kids and the time that has passed without their daddy here. The things they've longed to share with him. The things they've missed hearing him say and my tears poured down my cheeks. Elliyah was there and we held one another for a minute. The grief lifted with her love and acceptance of where I was at that moment.
Tonight as I was tucking in my Abigail, now 6, she saw a picture on her sister's phone of her siblings and I standing and smiling for a picture around Matt's gravesite at the USAFA in 2018. She looked at me and queried, "Mom, why are so many people smiling at daddy's grave?". She explained that we should be sad and not smiling about being there. Tonight, she asked me, " Mom, how did cancer even start growing in Daddy?". I also took her to some other photos in the phone of her daddy and her when he was reading her a book, on our Disney trip, our last Christmas together, her last gift she remembered holding from him, and a picture of her dad eating pizza just 9 days before he'd never have to worry about hunger or liver failure ever again. I talked to her about hope in Jesus for a moment and told her that was why I was smiling in that picture at Daddy's grave and that I was happy to be standing with my family. Hope and sadness...trust and fear......grief and joy.....pain and relief .......celebration and mourning......so many things coexist in this world. They can be in the same place at the same time. I live this everyday. But honestly, it's taken time for me to begin to learn to accept that these things can coexist and that it is normal. My normal.
In 2022, I am asking God to supernaturally let these things coexist in my family. We create a safe place for healing when we allow people to be where they are at that moment. I am asking God to do supernatural things in the places of safety in my heart this year and in my family's hearts. He's all ready answering.