The holidays are approaching and I watch everyone else filled with excitement and anticipation. Scott loved the holidays and it was always such a happy time in our house, but I find now that I dread those days. I have learned to live with all of the normal days of the year… I have had well over 1000 of those days to practice being without him, but this is only our 4th thanksgiving, our 4th Christmas, his 4th birthday, and our 4th wedding anniversary apart. Four really isn’t that much, and I think the lack of practice on these special days makes them all the harder.
Honestly, I am tired of being sad… tired of dreading the day and looking for distractions to make it go quicker… I am tired of faking a smile and tired of the triggers that make me well up with tears. I really truly want to be able to live and enjoy those days again.
My children are growing up and leaving, and already we are not all together on those days. I suppose this loss is something everyone faces, even without death in the picture. Children grow up and leave home to create their own families. Change is constantly in motion in our lives like waves crashing on the shore. We often catch ourselves fearing the next wave to come.
I am reminded of our surfing lessons in Hawaii this summer. As we were trying to paddle out with the waves crashing in, we were toppled and tossed off our our boards with each new waves. With eyes stinging from the salt water, we would recover our boards and try to make up the lost distance before the next wave gathered strength. It was a tiring, loosing battle until our instructor taught us to dive under the wave. Instead of sitting up on the board and trying to fight our way over the wave, we simply laid flat on the board and bowed our heads to dive beneath it.
It was effortless to get to the other side of the wave this way. We avoided the churning and emerged smoothly on the other side. So as the waves of change crash upon our lives, we can either fight miserably against them or we can learn to peaceably roll with them.
Maybe I am finally at the point where I am tired enough of being beaten up in the resistance that I am finally willing to embrace the process of change in my life. Just as we bow our heads to go under the powerful crashing waves, I can bow to the power of He who creates these waves of change, and as I do that, I know that He can help me pass to the other side of them.
So what is holding me back? As I think about it, it has to be fear. Fear is that beast that always tries to paralyze me and prevent me from moving forward in faith. It is what dampens my hope and kills my joy.
What do I fear?
Unfulfilled expectations, more loss, being alone…
How do I combat those fears?
There is only one way that I know to combat fear, and that is through prayer. Through prayer, I can get the power to overcome those fears. So tonight that is what I was doing. Not formally on my knees, but pondering through out the evening and when I slipped into the tub tonight. My mind went back to earlier today and a lesson formulated in my mind.
This afternoon, my daughter sang a solo in the all city choir. In the audience I was trying to get the camera ready to video her portion of the song that was coming up. I was fiddling with the settings, when I looked up towards her. I found myself wishing that I had brought my glasses so that I could see her better, and then in the middle of that thought, superimposed upon it, came a clear voice… “Isn’t she so beautiful?”
I stopped everything as tears welled in my mind. “You’re here!” I thought shaking my head slightly, “Of course I’m/you’re here… I/You wouldn’t miss this.” It was if there were two voices thinking the same thing in my head. Then I was still and I just felt… felt the emotions flood me… the love that my husband had for his little girl filled me with such an alarming strength that I fought back more tears.
As I video taped her part, I just shared that moment with him… the two of us watching together… both soaking it in… and then he was gone. The song was over and just as quick as it had come over me, it was gone.
After the performance, I told Rachel that her dad was there. She smiled and said, “I know.” So tonight I have been thinking about this and what I wrote earlier about special days being hard.
Why today? Why did I feel that today?
I sunk down in the tub in my darkened bathroom letting the water cover my ear to block out every sound but my breathing. The realization came as I pondered those questions.
I get to be physically here and I get to enjoy all of these special moments with them. Scott does not, but it’s what he wants more than anything. Together we watched her today, and I felt those emotions in him. Today I wasn’t thinking about him not being here. I wasn’t lamenting it. Sadness was not blinding me, and it just happened… Maybe his ability to experience and be with us is contingent upon me not being sad and focusing on myself. Maybe he depends on me to focus on the kids and the joy I can have with them.
This is a new thought for me. It makes sense in my mind. I know that for Scott to be with us and for us to feel him, we have to have the spirit with us. It is absolutely critical. That is why we live the way we do. It is why we have given up things that drive the spirit away and why we try not to argue or fight, but I had not pulled sadness into that category. Maybe it’s time now for me to understand this… maybe it’s time for me to make that change and I needed to know why in order to have the power to do it.
If I choose to turn inward and be sad and dwell on what I do not have, then I block the spirit and I block my husband. I miss out and he misses out.
I don’t have much time left with my children… It’s time that I stop missing out on the joy that I felt today. I have a lot of big things coming up. My son, Alex, is getting married this Christmas. They are coming home for Thanksgiving and we are having it together with her family, Scott’s birthday is the beginning of December and then the wedding is on our anniversary. I can’t miss this… I can’t be sad and miss this… miss all of the joy my husband wants to experience with me and share with me.
Maybe if I view it this way, I will have the incentive to push those bad thoughts away and I will be able to be still and just feel. Maybe this is how I duck my head and dive under the wave.
That is what today and tonight taught me… now I just have to do what I believe to be true. I have to act in faith and trust that the feelings will come and I will feel a great measure of joy this year. This new revelation is exciting to me because I think I have somewhere to focus now and I feel like I can do this better this year.
So if you struggle on those special days because you have a loss that eats at your heart, choose to push away the sadness. Choose not to dwell on it and to be grateful. Choose to be still and to see the joy around you. Open a place in your heart for the spirit to fill you. You may not have a spouse on the other side of the veil, but you do have a Father in Heaven who loves you beyond description. He wants us to find joy in this life and He wants to fill us with it, but He can’t if we don’t want to receive that gift.
If we are so focused in fear on the next wave to come, if we are bracing for the impact then we will miss the ease of the water flowing over us as we bow and dive beneath it. Choose to bow. Choose to trust your instructor and you will come out less beaten up on the other side.
Questions to Ponder:
1. What can help you choose to focus outward and receive joy?