My Facebook memory today is not one that I’ll be sharing. It wasn’t a photo or a reminder of a special time. After making the necessary calls, It was my announcement to friends and family that my Haggiebutt had gone home. So much life has been lived since that post, but I can’t accurately quantify the passage of time. The calendar says 366 days (leap year), but to us it was yesterday and forever ago. I asked Weston how he was doing with it being the “one year” mark and his response was perfect. I tend to use a lot of words, but he stated so simply the accuracy of the absence of his brother. “One year, one month, one week - it’s all the same and it still feels like a dream.”
I’ve learned more in one year without my son, than any precious year before, and since I have officially walked an entire calendar year plus one day with a child in heaven, I feel like I’m qualified to give a bit of advice. Now, we all know that Imarch to the beat of a different drum, so what I’m about to say is probably going to contradict things you’ve been taught or told. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I would ask that you remember this is my journey.
One thing that I’ve seen and heard repeatedly throughout this year is that it doesn’t get any better nor does it get easier. “It” being the grief over losing my son.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting again, that my son isn’t dead. He just isn’t here. I feel him from time to time and I know that if my spirit dwells in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6) where he now lives, then those precious times that I feel his presence as if he were next to me must mean that our spirits are in the same place at the same time. I haven’t lost him. We’re just separated, and that separation is the most painful part for me. Jesus knows full well the pain of that separation. I don’t believe it was the cross or the torment of his abusers that he endured that caused him the greatest pain. I believe It was his separation from his father.
In the first few days of this new life I’m living, I asked the Lord to protect my grief so that the enemy could not use it to destroy me. I have no idea why I prayed that but it just rolled off of my tongue as naturally as “God is great, God is good,let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” It presented itself in such a way that I had prayed it before I knew it. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how I was going to put one foot in front of the other, let alone have the wherewithal to anticipate the enemy’s strategy, but He knew. He dropped it into my spirit and to the Throne Room of Heaven I sent it. I prayed it, He heard it, and the enemy lost the ability to torment me in that way. He found other ways, but that was lost to him.
I’ve lost much, and most recently my daddy joined Hagen, but God is still so good. His goodness never waivers and if anything I see the last year as a year of harvest. Why a harvest? Because nothing harvested comes easily. Nothing blooms or grows overnight and there is a constant battle against pests, the elements or disease. You’re going to lose some crops, bury some heads of livestock and lay awake at night listening to storms ravage what you spent your day working on. You learn what works and what doesn’t from mistakes that you make and finally, the day does come that everything blooms, everything grows and everything thrives, and before you is a harvest that will provide all that it was intended to provide, often times more bountiful than you anticipated.
My harvest weathered unimaginable storms, fought off plagues of pests and survived the most heinous diseases hell could come up with, yet it bloomed and blossomed, flourished and multiplied all while I was distracted by the storm I thought was going to destroy it. My life, or my crops if you will, looks nothing, and I mean NOTHING like it did last year. If you’ve followed me for any length of time then you know my fight is fueled by three precious souls, but a year ago one of them was new to me, one was yet to be born, and the other... well, he’s a different guy now himself. While I am mother to two with only one here, he’s brother to many, but learned at 16 what it feels like to be an only child. Not as much fun as one would imagine. Those three are the shining glory of my bountiful harvest. Had I not lived this past year, I wouldn’t know the beauty and comfort of the amazing bond that was formed, through all things, grief.
As I sit here journaling, the pistons in my brain are rapidly firing all of the things that I’ve learned, good and bad, that perhaps are the portion of my harvest that hopefully will be of some use to one of you. So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned in the first year without my son.
I’ve learned grief is a thief, and I have chosen not to let it steal anything from me.
I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, but at a time when our world has been turned upside down, and all that was right is now wrong, we do get to choose how we grieve. I choose to look ahead. I choose to accept what I don’t understand and I choose joy.
I’ve learned that friendships are born and soul mates are found in people you might not otherwise even associate with.
I’ve learned that I have little to no control over what goes on around me and I’m thankful that controlling every element of my life is far too great a responsibility so I’m going to let Him have it all. He knows what He’s doing far far better than I.
I’ve learned that I’ve hardened somewhat and that my definition of compassion has changed and that not all people are good but thankfully not all people are bad.
I’ve learned that my past prepared me for my future, because had my past, though difficult, been any other way, I wouldn’t be able to press on now.
I’ve learned that the Lord doesn’t work in mysterious ways. His ways are higher than mine and deliberate and that there's always a purpose. There’s no mystery.
I’ve learned that His love comes in so many beautiful packages and at just the perfect time.
I’ve learned when He doesn’t answer my prayers right away, there is a reason and that I will learn from my wrestling and in time, see why it wasn’t answered.
I’ve learned that every obstacle, roadblock and stop sign isn’t meant to deter me. Oftentimes they are lessons in perseverance, faith, and incentive to find another way.
I’ve learned that “no” sometimes means not yet.
I’ve learned that what the world sees as strength is in all actuality my weakness, and in my weakness I choose to allow theLord to use me to take what the enemy meant for harm and use it for His glory.
I’ve learned that my anger at injustice and apathy mirrors Heavens and that when the Lord says speak, I had better get busy.
I’ve learned that the world has in so many ways lost hope without realizing Hope has always been here. Hope has always been here and we’ve just lost sight of it. Hope fed over 5,000 with nothing but a few fish and loaves of bread, and Hope has continued to feed the masses. Hope parted the sea and in its place left dry ground, and Hope continues to make a way where a way should not be. Hope was in the fire with the three unwavering believers, and Hope continues to stand in the fires of our lives never leaving us to face the flames alone. Hope loved the ones deemed unlovable and sat with them in their alienation, and today still chooses the ones deemed the least of these. Hope never left, we lost the ability to see it.
I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try, I will fail. I will fall. I will scream and I will cuss. I will have days when the only thing that I can thank Him for us is that the day is over. I will react without reason and I will be ashamed of things thought or done.
I’ve learned that He sees me. He sees my pain, my doubts, my fears, and my fits that would rival a two year old. He sees it all, covers it with his blood and swaddles me with grace. Not a get out of jail free kind of grace but a gentle, loving, I know why you did what you did and I’m so very sorry you’re hurting so deeply grace.
I’ve learned on those days, when all I can do is hold on to the hem of his garment with no words and only a mustard seed of faith, that He will stop what He’s doing and recognize the power that leaves Him. On those days, when all I have to give to Him is my simple faith that He is the I Am, He says to me, “Your faith has healed you.”
I’ve learned that healing takes time, but each day is better than the last.
I’ve learned that this life, without my son, is my temporary reality. That one day, there will be no more separation. That he is now in the presence of Hope, and until I stand next to them both, I will continue holding onto the hem of His garment, drawing from His power, and doing all that He allows me to do, opening the eyes of all that have lost hope.
I miss you Hagen. I miss you when Declan gives his momma a little bit of his daddy’s playful attitude and when Ty and Weston are arguing. I miss watching sunsets and lightning storms and listening to music for hours. I miss you, but not as you were. I miss who you are now and not seeing all that you are doing on the other side. I was proud of your battle here and how incredibly hard you fought and loved, and I am certain that the warrior that was always in you, is fighting a different fight, loving every minute of it.
One year down. One incredibly difficult, painful, beautiful, blessed year down. I miss you, but without having you to miss, I would not have the harvest. I would not have this beautiful new life that I will in every way live to the fullest. I’m sending you a big hug and big love on the first anniversary of your homecoming.