First things first, I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas with family and friends. I was reminded again this year of how much I treasure the gift of Christ more than ever. What would I do without Him? How would I breathe and function in our loss if I didn’t have the steady hope of heaven in my heart? Every day is Christmas because I cling to the life and hope His arrival ushered in.
There has been a lot of holidaying around here, and there is nothing I savor more than time with my four kids. Having two home from college means I am in my sweet spot. So, writing has been on the shelf (as were laundry, bills, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets).
But, now there is a rare quiet moment. The dishwasher is gurgling, the washer is chugging, my dog is breathing heavily as she snoozes beside me, and the ignored stuff is done.
Though my fingers haven’t been putting words to screen recently, my mind and heart have been busy. Very, very busy. They have been swirling and wrestling in ways I didn’t expect as I said good-bye to 2014 and hello to 2015. Maybe some of you can identify.
1. New Year Reality Check- When your life has been entirely, radically altered, every day is new. Every day takes courage. Every day takes all of you. A new year is only a change in numbers that I write incorrectly on my checks for months, because every day is lived in a new reality I never wanted or expected. I am used to brand new every day.
Frankly, the level of newness is very tiring.
So, the unpleasant novelty of my new life as a single mom and widow has worn thin. I have a really good idea of what each of those 365 days ahead will feel like. This new year will continue to require more of me than I ever thought I would be able to give.
And, the main wrong part of my life won’t change. John really, truly isn’t coming back. I am really, truly doing life alone.
2. New Year Relief– Honestly, I felt guilty about it this past week, but I was glad to say good-bye to 2014. It was a year with some truly wonderful times, YET it was an exhausting year! I loved the joys and adventures, but I also had to tackle some really hard things this year.
I am thankful for the big joys of the year because they counter-balanced the constant trudging uphill through the third year of this loss that just won’t go away. But, at the end of the year, I breathed a sigh of relief for the work that is behind me.
3. New Year Resistance– For all of my eagerness to let go of 2014, there is the knowledge that each year takes me further from John. Further from the beautiful life the six of us used to live together. Our previous life is becoming more historical.
I hate that.
I happened to see some photos of my son from the year John died. He was so little. So young. He was only 10 when his dad simply disappeared from his life. It made me feel sick. And angry.
My life used to be so beautiful, so simple, so straightforward. There is still beauty because my kids are so incredible, and God is loving us so tenderly. But simple? Absolutely not. Considering any change means layers of complication.
If I could paint what my life looks like, it would be me standing directly in front of a tall brick wall. To my left, there is no wall, just wide open empty space. That is where I am reaching over with God’s grace and strong arms to help our kids move forward into their futures- a limitless blue sky future.
But, I am not moving. I am stuck.
I can plant ivy and make the wall a little lovelier, but nothing is changing the fact that I am facing a brick wall.
When I told my daughter this illustration of my heart, she quietly said, “Have you thought about stepping left?”
Left into a blue sky future? Hmmm….that is scary. I never imagined I would need or want a second chapter life.
My future has always been tied to John’s career and life. Since I was a teenager, I have purposely made choices that allowed me to be in a supportive role. I don’t have regrets about that. At all. But, now I find myself with my future completely blank. One big question mark.
It is a very unexpected place. Unnerving. Those new year evaluations of my life bring many questions. Who am I now? What is my purpose beyond my kids?
And with each passing year, it only gets more real. 2015 means it it is getting harder to say that my husband died recently. In March it will be three years. We will begin the fourth year. Like it or not, time is moving us on. And beyond.
So, for people like me, like us, new years bring complicated emotions and questions.
But, for all of my new year dilemmas, my heart can’t stop singing with gusto the refrain of this song we sing at church:
“You, You are my first. You are my last. You are my future and my past.”
-“Future/Past” John Mark McMillan (listen here)
Jesus Christ is climbing this uphill, rocky journey every day with me. My past has exquisite beauty and exquisite pain. And, my future? I don’t know what that will be…I hope for more beauty; I expect more sorrow and I am anchored to the constancy of Him through it all.
He holds my future. He has held me through my past. He is my first and my last, my future and my past. He is the unchanging, unwavering constant that I need. So, with new year jitters, I welcome 2015 because I know who is by my side and I know who has my future all figured out.
May the dawn of this new year find you brave & hopeful & confident in Him,
PS Many have asked about the Dad presents my kids received. : ) The gifts were a hit because they each had asked for something that was a reach! Daughter 1- a beautiful watch she had wished for (John loved watches) Daughter 2- a handmade leather bag by a designer she knows (John appreciated fine craftsmanship) Daughter 3- a European travel bag (John enjoyed unique travel luggage) Son- a Go Pro Hero (a more affordable early edition- John would have had a blast making adventurous videos with him.) They were all delighted. Me too.
PPS And I have loved hearing from other people who were inspired to do the same thing for their children or grandchildren. As always, I love any beauty from our ashes. ((hugs))