Well, things are gradually getting back to a somewhat normal life in the Sullivan household. It is definitely a "new normal"....with a big Hannah-shaped hole in the middle of it. Brad returned to work yesterday, and feels that it has been good to get back into a routine. It is difficult, especially since he was Hannah's principal, and he is there at the school with all of her peers every day. His co-workers, and even the students, have really made the transition back to work easier. Bethany has been back in school since last Friday, and is really doing well. Her friends and her teachers have been absolutely wonderful. She has gained a maturity and grace beyond her years, yet has still retained her fun-loving, sunshiny personality...we are so proud of her! I plan to return to work on Tuesday of next week. This will be a big change for me, as I have not worked (other than a few days in December when Hannah temporarily returned to school) since late September. I enjoy my job, and have missed working with my students, so I am looking forward to going back, although the time I've spent at home by myself the last few days has been good. We've also been able to return to church, which is a real blessing.
There have been some very touching tributes to Hannah which have taken place over the last few days. Last Friday, a tree was planted in Hannah's memory at her school, and another tree was planted in front of the new youth building (where the visitation took place) at our church. The members of the high school girls' softball team are all wearing gray sweatbands with Hannah's name and date of death embroidered on them in pink. (They're undefeated, by the way!) One student had to do a poetry anthology as an English assignment...she chose the theme of "Peace, Hope, and Love" and dedicated it to Hannah...and she made an extra copy for us to keep. Many beautiful poems have been written and given to us. We have received innumerable cards, letters, and emails from people telling us how Hannah's storm has changed their lives. I don't even have the words to express what a comfort all of this is to us...of course, these things often bring tears as well. Those tears can show up when you least expect them!
I have spent a lot of time the last few days going through all of the emails we sent and received during our final stay at Children's Hospital and at Hospice. I am still working on my project of cutting and pasting all of these emails into a Word document so I can print them all and keep them. (That document is almost 400 pages long...if you can believe that...and I'm only up to February 20th...I fell way behind while we were away from home!) I also got some pictures developed today which were taken while we were at Children's and at Hospice. As I read those emails and look at those pictures, I am transported back in time to those two weeks before Hannah went to Heaven. Then I think back even farther...back to about September of this past year, when we found out that Hannah's cancer had returned. Truthfully, that was when we began losing Hannah bit by bit...it's easier to see that now, in retrospect. Starting about January 2nd, there was a definite acceleration, and by February, it was apparent that "our Hannah" was leaving us. As difficult as it is to adjust to life without her, when I look at those pictures taken in her last days, I can't help but rejoice for her. There is a deep, deep sadness, that I suppose will always be there, but it is tempered by the knowledge that Hannah has been fully restored...her strength, her personality, her vision, her voice, her laughter, even her hair! Wow...God really is good, all the time!
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23