A couple of weeks ago, we attended the Garland County Relay for Life. Relay has actually become a pretty big part of our lives since Hannah was ushered into Heaven via cancer. We always have a tent for our Anchor of Hope Cancer Ministry group, and we always have a great time celebrating another year of life with all of them. Here are a few of our sweet folks...
I was on the luminary committee this year, so I was REALLY busy for the whole evening. Someone did manage to snap a quick picture of Brad and me, though...
As a member of the luminary committee, my Relay day started at 7:00 a.m., labeling, filling, and setting out the nearly 1,500 luminary bags which had been purchased in honor and in memory of those touched by cancer. This year, our Relay offered people the option of purchasing "Torches of Hope" in addition to the luminary bags. These were basically tiki torches adorned with purple ribbons and a brass plaque with a loved one's name on it. We decided to purchase one of those in memory of Hannah this year, deciding that that would be a unique way to honor our girl's memory. I was actually pretty excited about this torch, thinking it would make a great memento.
Imagine my disappointment when I saw her brass plaque, and it looked like this...
Yes, that's right ... it says "In Memory of Hanny Joy Sullivan". What? Are you kidding me?
I wish I could adequate describe the emotions that ran through me for the next few hours as I went through the motions of my responsibilities on the committee. Thank goodness for sunglasses! I cried tears of anger, frustration, and sadness off and on for quite awhile. How could something like this happen? I mean, who would name their kid "Hanny"? Shouldn't someone at the brass plaque factory have caught that? I know that's not how I filled out the order form! How were Bethany and Brad going to feel when they saw this glaring error?
And then, as the turbulence of my initial emotions began to subside, I began to ask myself different questions. Why did this bother me so much? What was I so upset about? Why had this simple spelling error thrown me into such a tailspin? After all, it really wasn't that big of a deal ... Was it?
As I began to think more rationally, it started to become clear to me. When a parent loses a child, that child's name becomes more precious to them than ever before. Especially as time goes by, and you rarely hear their name or see it in writing anymore. In kind of a strange way, that name becomes proof ... something concrete to show that your child did actually exist.
Once I was able to identify what made me so upset, I began to get my feet back under me. The error, while unfortunate, couldn't be helped, and it really wasn't that big of a deal. I mean ... a rose by any other name still smells as sweet ... right?
It just goes to show that the road of grief is not a wide, straight, clear path from hurt to healing. It's a twisted, bumpy road with lots of detours and obstacles along the way. And just when you think you're making good progress, along comes a big old pothole to give you a good jar. A good reminder that we need to stick close to the One who holds the map!