I don't have too many of "those days" anymore. You bereaved parents know what I mean. Your day is going along just fine ... of course, your child was the first thing you thought of you when you woke up and you've thought about him or her pretty much all day ... but that's at least become normal. And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, something happens that sets off that tidal wave of grief and your world is rocked.
In the early days after Hannah went to Heaven, that was nearly a daily occurrence ... sometimes several times a day, to be honest. As time passed, and through the grace of God, those knee-buckling blows began to come less often. "Less often" may not actually be accurate ... they probably still came just as often, but I was stronger, better able to deal with them.
So yesterday was just the average Sunday morning. My days of dreading going to church in the early weeks after Hannah's homegoing have been behind me for quite awhile now. We came in the back door where we always enter, visiting with our friends Larry and Janice Brown for a few minutes before stepping into our nearby Sunday School classroom. Suddenly a friend from my Sunday School class stepped out into the hallway and asked me if I would like to have Hannah's can. I must have had a completely blank look on my face as I said, "Huh?" I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that when they renovated the upstairs Sunday School classrooms in the church, there were several cans made by kids in the cabinets, and she had saved Hannah's for me. She again asked me if I'd like to have it, and this time I enthusiastically said "Yes!" "OK, be right back", she said, and disappeared.
Janice and I visited for a few more minutes, when suddenly my friend reappeared with this ...
She stuck it in my hand and disappeared into our classroom. I was immediately and unexpectedly overcome with emotion. The handwriting was unmistakable ... This can had belonged to my girl.
It was decorated simply, just her name with a glued-on jewel and a heart at each end of her name.
Hannah was a no-frills kind of a girl. In fact, I could just see her writing her name, decorating it just enough to indulge her teacher, then setting the cup aside and leaning forward in her chair saying, "What are we gonna do now?"
I spent the next few hours in Sunday School and church trying (more or less successfully) just to hold it together. What was it about this simple cup that got to me so much? I finally came up with some thoughts...
--While I'm surrounded by things that belonged to Hannah in her room, I've become "used to" seeing those things. This was something new ... something of hers that I never even knew existed.
--I have no idea when Hannah made this cup, but I'm guessing it was before her cancer diagnosis when she was sixteen. I pictured her making this cup, with nothing weightier on her mind than how many jewels to stick on it and where we were going to eat lunch after church. I love remembering her as a carefree child, before cancer turned her into an instant adult.
--Hannah loved the fact that her name was a palindrome ... a word that's spelled the same way forwards and backwards. Yes, she's a "word nerd" just like her Mom. I can just imagine her enjoying that as she made this cup.
--It was unexpected. After four years, I pretty much know the "triggers" ... the things that are going to bring those waves of emotion. But this ... this I wasn't prepared for.
--It's a link to my girl. Something from the past suddenly brought into the present. And just knowing that Hannah's hands had touched it made me never want to let it go.
After Sunday School, my friend approached me and told me that she had actually found the cup a long time ago, and had held onto it all this time, not sure whether or not she should give it to me. She said she didn't want to add to my pain. As I erupted into tears, I'm pretty sure she was convinced she had really messed up! Somehow I think I managed to convince her that she had made the right decision, and that that simple cup with my daughter's handwriting on it was a priceless gift to me.
So yesterday was one of "those days." Did my friend really make the right decision to give me that cup? You'd better believe it!