October is coming. Actually, it has been looming for a few weeks now. I see Halloween decorations and the pit in my stomach grows. I have had a sense of dread as the year ago memories start coming into focus. I have been having some flashbacks to days in the hospital with Mike, nights with no sleep, constant problem solving, the daily emotional onslaught of disbelief, and my burning desire to spend every second with my dear husband. I know in my head that each day will come and go just as the one before. That every day has 24 hours; no more, no less. But there is something about the one year mark that brings the loss much more in focus and the reality of this new life hits you square in the face – and in the heart. Mike died on October 31, 2012.
Much of my life has been spent coaching volleyball where I learned to anticipate roadblocks and develop ways for the team to overcome them in competition. The next four weeks are filled with emotional roadblocks that have the potential to stop me dead in my tracks. It can be overwhelming. It is easy to allow the onslaught of painful memories to take my mind over and reign in my heart; they scream for me to pull the covers over my head and disappear for days or weeks while they have their way with me. It is easy to think that one day I will wake up and it will all be back to “normal” – whatever that is. That the memories and pain will dissipate on their own. But I know better. It takes work.
“It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.” Streams in the Desert
Just like in competition, I have identified the roadblocks, and have come up with a plan. What a better way to confront the onslaught of painful memories than with reflecting on the blessings that I; that we, experienced through those challenging days. I cannot deny my sorrow. I am not ignoring it. I am choosing to recognize it, to feel it, AND to companion it with the moments of joy that happened in the midst of the sorrow and the moments of joy that I experience in the present.
In Isaiah 61:3, God promises to:
“give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair”
And so I have decided to post every day in October, 31 Days of Thanks. I know that some days are going to be easier than others. I know that some days I may just post a picture, a word, or tell a story. It will be a journey. And hopefully it will help me to process through the pain and keep my heart and mind focused on the good and the hope I have for the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11