Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Return to Joy

After many months away, I'm finally getting back to my blog. Something that used to be so much fun for me and cathartic in a way became difficult, and I just didn't feel like I had anything to say. That was due to going through the hardest thing I've ever been through the date...the passing away of my mom. As I sit here writing tonight, I'm sure the tears will come as will some laughter. It's been a long tough road since June 3, and I'm sure I have many more twists and turns to come. But today, for the first time since that day, I experienced true joy and happiness.

Nothing in particular brought the joy. Which is usually the way joy appears. Back in December I put up our Christmas tree and decorations. It was a hard thing to do. The last several years this was something that my mom and I shared. Due to her health, she wasn't able to do a lot as far as decorating. But we fell into our special routine...we would play Christmas music in the background...usually finding one or two songs that stood out that year and play them over and over. I would put up the tree and start taking out ornaments. She would help put up a few and then sit on the couch and watch me (and sometimes Bryce and Noah) put the others on the tree. She'd watch as I put out my collection of Nativity sets...many of which she and my dad had given me each previous year for Christmas. And I have a ton! And we would talk about anything and everything. And when everything was decorated, she would sit there and look at the living room and say how beautiful everything was. Now we don't live in an elaborate mansion...just a simple home with simple decorations. But to her, it was the most beautiful tree in the world. And it was also a reminder that the first Christmas was far from being elaborate...Baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by smelly animals. Yet it was the most beautiful Christmas ever.

So this year, after making myself put out decorations I really didn't want to deal with...I sat and listened to a Christmas song by Steven Curtis Chapman called "Home for Christmas"...and cried and weeped because I wasn't able to share this moment with my mom. The song is one that became special to me after my Mema passed away awhile back...and now has a new special meaning with this new loss. As that day went on, I didn't think I was going to make it. I pretty much just wanted to skip Christmas. As the days went on, I had some good days. But the closer Christmas got, the more I was dreading it. Thankfully, I had a handful of good friends who talked me through the rough days or just let me cry...and who still are there anytime I call. But I knew it was going to be hard.

So Christmas came and went. And it was....different. It was hard. Yes, I cried. My dad and I felt kind of out of place at the usual family gatherings. Kind of like we were missing a part of us. And we were. See, not only had we lost a wife and mother...we also lost our best friend. My parents have always been such an example of what true love is all about...and what I can only hope to find one day. And my mom and I shared something special, too, that not everyone has with their mom. So it was almost like having a double loss...on one hand my mom who raised me and prayed for me everyday and who I spent many days with at doctor's offices and hospitals...on the other hand my best friend who I could talk to and shop with and cry to when my heart got broken or laugh with over something crazy we did. And nothing can ever prepare you for a loss like that. It affects you in ways you cannot anticipate. And at times you even feel like you are going a little crazy.

I know that she's in Heaven, and I know without a doubt that I will see her again. But that didn't help with the anger that God had taken her too soon. That there were things I still wanted her here my wedding, my children, Baddour plays (that she and my dad always came to), to cook Christmas goodies with, to talk to when there is no one else who understands, and the list goes on. Or the anger when well meaning people (who really don't know me well) would try to tell me they knew how I felt or what I was going through...because no one knows that except the person going through it. And I didn't want hugs and well wishes. I wanted to scream and cry and just be left alone. I still hate that she won't be here for those things and I still have issues with people other than my close friends trying to "make it better", but the anger is subsiding...and I know that God has a plan. Even though I don't understand it. But it's taken awhile to get to that point. And that's not to say that I won't have moments of anger again. Or moments of crying. Or denial. Or depression. All of those things are normal stages of grief. But today, for the first time since the days before June 3, I began to experience joy and happiness and peace.

Psalm 30:5 says "..weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." The weeping did endure, and it was a long night. But I'm beginning to see signs of the morning. Today I took down those same decorations I put up a month ago. But instead of crying with every ornament, I began to smile and even laugh at some of the memories of years past. And I felt this overwhelming peace and joy...that life was going to be ok. That God was going to do great things and that He would heal my heart.

Now, I still miss my mom and always will. No one can take that place. I'm going to miss cooking all of the treats we used to cook together for Christmas. I'm going to miss those unique Nativity sets she always got me (although my dad and a couple of my friends jumped in and gave me a couple this year...thank you!!!). I still miss the talks we had on the way to her doctor appointments. I miss our lunches. If I am ever blessed to be married and have children, I'm going to miss her not being there at the end of the aisle or in the delivery room. When I face another tragedy or loss or crisis, I'm going to miss having her to talk to. And when I have wonderful news, I'm going to miss rushing home to tell her. And I am thankful that my dad and I have a good relationship and can still share some of these things together.

But I can still have joy. A joy that no one can steal. I'm sure I'll have more nights of weeping, more bad days, more anger, more hurt. My heart has been broken beyond what can ever be fully repaired. But it is on the mend. And the Lord is faithful and will give me strength each day as I need it. And He will be my joy. He will be your joy. I'm sure some who read this have dealt with a loss or pain so deep you think you can never heal. But you can. Or rather He can heal you. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise to never leave you. Even on days you don't feel Him there, on days when you scream at Him for allowing such pain (which is ok, you know...He's God and He can handle it) and on days when you just want to curl up in your bed and shut out the world...He's still there. And He waits to restore your joy.

I can't wait for the day I get to see my Momma again. But until that day, I'm going to try to live every day to the fullest and be happy...which is what she would want. And the joy I feel now is nothing to compare to the joy I'll feel on that day...when I not only get to see her again, but when I get to meet my Savior face to face for the first time. And I'll be filled with joy unspeakable and feel love beyond comprehension.

So please continue to pray for my dad and me as we continue to navigate this way we've never been before. I know we still have some hard days ahead. But I know with time, the pain will diminish and the happiness will grow. And the joy will return.