Before I start in on "October Again", let me give you just a brief update on Miss Glory. She has done well since her surgery, although she has remained sedated this whole time. Following the surgery, her chest was left open to allow for any swelling, and she is doing well enough that the surgeon is closing her up today. She will continue to need our prayers in the days ahead, though, and if you're on Facebook, you can follow her progress on her "Fight Like a Glory Girl" page.
So, back to October. There are so many things I love about this season of the year...the cooler weather, the falling leaves, my favorite hoodies, the colors of fall, and let's not forget the candy corn! But I don't have quite the same relationship with fall as I used to have. Now when I flip the calendar to October, I begin to feel very Eeyore-ish. Even though I'm surrounded by things I enjoy, my heart just sinks a little as I look ahead into the next three months.
Tomorrow is Brad's birthday...something we always enjoy celebrating with a trip to our favorite restaurant...Outback! But as much as we enjoy celebrating family birthdays together, they are just not the same when there's such a gaping hole in our family. Anytime there's a family occasion, the sharp knife of Hannah's absence inflicts fresh pain. Hannah absolutely loved getting together with the family, whether it was just the four of us, or our rather large extended family...and it's just not the same without her.
The 22nd of October is Hannah's birthday...and she would have been turning 20 years old this year. What a milestone in a young woman's life! It's so hard to imagine that we'll be observing her 20th birthday without her...and that this will be her third birthday in Heaven. And while I don't begrudge her those heavenly birthdays, I sure wish she was going to be here to help us eat the Mississippi Mud cake I'll be baking in her honor on October 22nd!
November and December will bring more family gatherings...and I've just told you how I feel about that. We'll continue to seek out new holiday traditions in an effort to make these events more palatable.
Now, I really don't mean for this to sound all doom and gloom. Compared to the first time I turned the calendar to October after Hannah's death -- Well, there's no comparison. That first year, I literally felt physically sick from October through December. And then that sickness started back up again in February, the month that marked the anniversary of her death. Since then, I've learned a few things...
1. The anticipation of a birthday, holiday, anniversary, etc., is almost always worse than the actual date once it arrives.
2. It is still possible to enjoy these events...not only that, it's okay to enjoy these events. Laughing, smiling, relaxing, and enjoying your remaining family is not a betrayal of your loved one...it's a very valid way to honor their memory and the joy they brought to your life.
3. It's also okay not to enjoy every minute of these events. As a matter of fact, it's pretty safe to say you won't. I've learned to be patient with myself and acknowledge that I have suffered a very deep loss, and that my emotions may not always be predictable or under control.
4. I know now that there are still things to look forward to and joy to be found. I really couldn't see that when I was deep in that first year of grief, but I do see it now. God is good, and He has much good in store for each of us ... but if we are too blinded by our own grief and sorrow, we can't see it.
So, it's October again. As I look ahead into the next three months, I am going to make a conscious choice to keep my eyes open, because I don't want to miss a single one of God's good gifts.