Well, we've made it through another one of those tough dates. Tuesday marked four years since Hannah went to Heaven ... and it was okay. I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the number of cards, texts, phone calls, and Facebook posts we received ... people letting us know they were praying for us and friends and family members posting pictures and memories of Hannah. Made the day much easier.
I was thinking on Tuesday about how I felt in those very early days of grief. When I counted every day Hannah had been gone. And how I eventually started counting in bigger units of time ... it's been a week, two weeks, it's been a month, three months, six months, nine months. I remember how, for awhile, the 26th of every month was a weight on my shoulders. How I dreaded those anniversary dates to the point where it nearly made me physically ill. I found myself living under the tyranny of these dates. I wondered how I could possibly make it for a whole year without her. Then that dreaded one-year anniversary came and went, and then it was 18 months, and then, somehow, it was two years. And now, unbelievably, it's been four years ... and two days.
Last night, we had our second While We're Waiting Support Group meeting. We started our meeting by going around the room and doing very brief introductions of ourselves and our child in Heaven. For example, I said, "We are Brad and Jill Sullivan, and our daughter Hannah went to Heaven in February of 2009 at the age of 17 following a battle with brain cancer." We got about halfway around the room and heard from several parents whose children had gone to Heaven relatively recently. Then we got to two moms who had lost their children many years ago. The first one introduced herself and told us her son's name, but then went blank on what year he died. She knew what year he was born and how old he was when he died, but said she'd have to do the math to remember the exact year. Then the next mom said that her son had died forty years ago, then got a thoughtful look on her face and said, "No, it wasn't 40 years, it was 30 years ago."
And for just a moment, I must admit that I thought to myself, "How could you possibly forget how long ago your child died?" And then it hit me. These moms hadn't really forgotten, they just knew that it didn't really matter how long it had been. They weren't living their lives under the tyranny of those dates anymore. After all, the amount of time we spend without our children here on earth pales in comparison to the amount of time we will spend with them in eternity.
What a lesson that was for me! And what a comfort to know that, over time, those special dates will loosen their grip on me, too. I'm happy to say that I'm beginning to see that happen. And that's what I've been thinking about on this Thoughtful Thursday.
Oh, and how's the basketball going? Well, I'm glad you asked. The Lady Panthers won their game on Tuesday, moving them on to the second round of the state tournament. The game was closer than we would have liked, and I was so relieved that the end of Bethany's basketball career didn't fall on the fourth anniversary of her sister's death (speaking of the tyranny of dates). I just have to share one picture from that game...
This picture just cracks me up. It's the tip at the beginning of the game, and you can see that Bethany is jumping as high as she possibly can to get that ball. The other girl apparently never even jumped. Yes, Bethany got the tip! :)