As I sit in our home on the last day of 2017, my heart is fragile. This holiday season has been hard. The reality of Toby being gone, forever, was ever present over the past few weeks. Where many experienced cheer and love, we felt abandonment and sadness.
It is hard to believe 2017 is nearly over. A full year without our son. No hugs or kisses. No first steps. No presents for Toby under the tree. As we stood in the cold on Christmas Day at the foot of Toby’s grave, I kept thinking to myself – I never could have imagined this is how we’d spend our holidays. Why is this our life? I fought like hell to find all the excitement and happiness I could for the holidays, it exhausted me.
We spent the last few days holed up in our house, doing a whole lot of nothing. Surprisingly, it was refreshing. We watched a lot of movies. We played in the snow with Luke, Murray & Theo. I read a lot – posts, articles, and books. I came across a passage yesterday in my reading that has been on my heart since.
Through this past year, while trying to spread Toby’s joy with as many as possible, I have continued to carry a heavy piece of grief with me. It has darkened my days and tested my relationship with God. I have sat at Toby’s grave; on my knees at the foot of the cross; and continually on my drive to work when I’m alone in the car asking “Why? Why would You take Toby? Why did this happen to our family?” This question has become a staple in my devotionals for our family and our healing. I hear this question in the midst of everyday routines. Well knowing that I will never have an answer, until the day I am standing in Heaven with Toby back in my arms.
Yesterday, I came upon this passage while reading:
“We have no right to ask
When sorrow comes,
Why did this happen to me?
Unless we ask the same question
For every joy that comes our way.”
-Philip S. Bernstein
This passage led me back to something that was given to me, by my mom, a few months ago. It is a song title ‘Glorious Unfolding.’ She had given me the CD to listen to. Instead, we Google’d the song and found the video to go with it. This song is emotional, and I can imagine, it can take on many meanings for those struggling – with anything – with death; with illness; with job loss; with financial insecurity; with family turmoil; with marriage struggles; with stumbles you may have had in the past year.
There’s a message for you in this. Open your heart, quiet your mind, and listen.
Glorious Unfolding – Steven Curtis Chapman
I have no idea what 2018 holds. This past year held moments of JOY that I do not want to let go of. They were moments from Toby, that I know he delivered to us. I felt it. There were moments of pure excitement and happiness with Luke that I thanked God, repeatedly for.
My one hope for 2018 is that I can loosen the grip on this question to which there is no answer – “Why?” And in trying to do that, help us see more of the Joy that God is placing in our path. I have to believe it is there. There is no other choice.
I know that this will not be easy. Grief is hard. It is ruthless. For grieving parents, the reality of a child dying, never goes away. But life continues to move forward. Things change.
Our path has changed, our journey has been altered. We must now find our footing on this path and keep climbing. I am not sure where we are going – figuratively or literally. And I know this will not be easy. It will not be without hurt and tears. But I pray that on our climb we find places to rest, recharge, grieve, and enjoy our family – all four of us.
Here we come, 2018, with joy in hand. Be gentle on us.