As I wrote last year, I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July. It is far too painful; if I close my eyes, I can still hear the shrieks and squeals of my daughters as they ran through the dark with their sparklers; can still see the looks on their faces as the fireworks exploded in the night sky. I can still feel the sweet, sticky little arms gripping my neck, and my hands, as they watched the parade in Manlius, waiting excitedly for their uncle to pass by in the fire truck. Waiting to run out as the candy was thrown, before running back to our spot on the side of the road. I tried, a couple of times, to go to the parade and fireworks without them, but it was disastrous, so now I usually just stay home. It just hurts too much. I miss them horribly. I miss all of our traditions. The family-ness of it all.
And when I do, I feel akin to those parents who have lost their children through some great tragedy. Except that mine are perfectly fine. Now young adults, they’re on a beach in Virginia this week, getting sunburned and hot as they wait to go to dinner with their father, and later to watch fireworks by the side of the ocean. It’s the yearly family vacation……without me. And it has been this way every year, since the divorce.
Because of a mix-up and a miscommunication, my pastoral counselor could not come to court that day, to be in the courtroom with me as I gave my testimony. I knew I couldn’t do it without her, so we (or rather, our lawyers) agreed to settle in the hallway outside the courtroom. She moved into a beautiful new home that day, and I lost mine. Life happens.
I feel guilty as I grieve, because the reality is that my kids are fine. It’s me who isn’t. Not only that, but they will be home tomorrow, so I’m trying to keep busy today, cleaning and getting ready for them, otherwise my head is full of courtroom and counseling sessions. (In truth, I haven’t done a single, blessed thing all day except cry.) I am aware that those parents who have lost their children forever would gladly give up every holiday just to have their children alive and well, whether they could be together or not. So, it feels like illegitimate grief, although that doesn’t make it any less painful.
As I write this, Jeff and Sheri Easter are singing “It’ll be Okay” in the background, on Daystar.
And I believe it will. I believe that somehow, someway, some day, God will make it all okay in the end. I have to believe this.
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.” Jeremiah 29:11