I think I've mentioned before how much I hate to cry in front of people. Well, nobody does...I realize that...but I almost have a phobia about it. It would be one thing if I could cry like my husband or my friend Susan...basically just silent, free-flowing tears...but that's not how it works for me. The first thing that happens to me, before the tears even start, is that my voice chokes completely off, rendering me speechless. Then I basically stop breathing, my face contorts into a grimace, and finally the tears start. When I realize that I'm running out of air, I try to inhale quietly, but it usually comes out as a strangled sob. So I end up holding my breath again, to try to prevent that, and it turns into a vicious cycle. It can be rather ugly. So, all my life, I have tried to avoid emotion-provoking situations.
Well, that's been impossible to do over the past 2+ years since Hannah was diagnosed with cancer. I still try to avoid potentially emotional situations when I can, but since basically anything can turn into an emotional situation these days, I can't avoid them all! While Hannah was sick, I became pretty much an expert at "steeling" myself. During our numerous hospital stays, when we were together in a very small room 24 hours a day, I had to be able to hold myself together. On all those drives back and forth to Little Rock, Brad and I had to contain our emotion. She always watched our reactions very closely, and if we handled things calmly and peacefully, she did too. If our emotions did escape in front of her, she would tell us, "Mom, Dad...don't cry...I'm going to be fine." And today, she is fine...much better than fine, actually! But, we are still left to grapple with our emotions.
The next three weeks are going to be filled with situations I would much prefer to avoid. This Sunday is Mother's Day...the second since my oldest daughter went to Heaven. This marks the first major holiday that we've had a "second" of. Hard to believe that much time has passed. Monday night is the Magnet Cove academic awards banquet. This banquet was always the highlight of Hannah's school year. She took great pride in her academic achievements...possibly too much! I really think she would have been more excited about this banquet than she would have been about prom...that's just the way she was. I skipped this event last year, and was planning to skip it again this year (avoidance, you know) but Bethany has received an invitation, meaning she is going to get some sort of award. So, I'm going...I am planning to take my own vehicle, though, in case I need to make a hasty exit!
Next Sunday is Senior Recognition Day at church, where all the graduates wear their regalia and come up to the front during the service. There's a slideshow with pictures of each graduate as they were growing up, and they tell about their plans for the future. We've been asked to submit some pictures of Hannah, so she will be recognized in some way during the service. Definitely an emotion-provoking situation.
The next weekend is Relay for Life, which I'm sure will be an emotional time. I am actually looking forward to it, though, because it's going to be a great opportunity to get word out around our community about the Anchor of Hope Cancer Ministry. I'm not so sure about staying up all night...but I think I can do it!
The following weekend, May 28th, is our high school graduation. That's going to be the toughest event of all. I actually don't want to avoid it completely...I just wish I could watch it in my own private press box. Brad is the high school principal, and he traditionally calls out the names of the graduating seniors. I'm just not sure if he's going to be able to do that this year. There's been some talk among the students about having an empty chair with a rose on it where Hannah would be sitting. Hannah's goal was to be valedictorian of her class, and she probably would have achieved it had she not gotten sick. It will be tough to listen to the student speeches that night, knowing how much she wanted to be one of those speakers. I'm going to get lots of practice trying not to cry that night!
But here's the thing....as important as all these things were to her when she was here, and as important as they seem to be to us now....they are nothing....nothing in light of eternity. Even though I am sad that Hannah is not here to be a part of all of this, I know that she is where she was created to be...in the presence of her Lord and Savior. And the Bible tells us that our tears will be redeemed: "Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6). So, as I choke my way through those tears this month, I choose to rest in that promise of joy!