Joy Comes Softly

I'm not sure what I was thinking back in January. I mean, I remember thinking that having Friday be the day I post the photos from my photo challenge to myself would be a good idea. And that it would be a good idea to have a different theme for each month. I still think that.

But, why did I choose "Joy" as my theme for June?

Maybe because I was deep in depression, and looking for joy in the month I thought might be hardest to see it seemed like a good idea. I guess.

I know for sure I didn't pull out an actual calendar when I made that decision. If I had, I may have noticed that the first Friday in June is also June 3, the one-year anniversary of Levi's death.

Yeah.

I look back on those dark days of winter and I see that I have been healing. Things are better. These days, unlike then, I am not busy in order to forget (most of the time.) But even when I was, somehow that busy-ness gave me the purpose I needed to keep moving through days that felt like walking through sludge. Eventually, there were less sludgy days. So I'm thankful for that.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I actually wanted to do more than merely forcing myself to do things out of sheer willpower--a strange and exhilarating feeling. I honoured it by making granola and lemonade on the same night--both "extras" that I hadn't made in well over a year. To show you how much of a deal this was, Jude asked, "Mom, why are you doing so much stuff in the kitchen?"

For forty-five minutes of work? Wow.

Since then, I have been rediscovering my old routines of preparing healthful food for my family. Not only do I feel better because I am finding joy in cooking again, but we are all feeling better because we are eating better. I have more energy. I am more engaged with my family. I'm thankful for that.

This past weekend poured rain, and the spring-cleaning bug hit me. I decluttered and rearranged furniture and reorganized and sometimes made my family help, and the resulting environment is much easier to keep clean and much nicer to be in. I let go of things I have been holding on to for emotional purposes. It was freeing. I'm thankful for that.

It also occurred to me last week that for the rest of my life, my wedding anniversary will occur exactly one week before the anniversary of my son's death. Joy followed by sorrow. Even while I was celebrating the love my husband and I share, I was looking ahead a week and wondering what this one will be like. I was also looking back 52 weeks and realizing that we were now entering the final week of "firsts" without our boy.

Okay, I've had some rough patches. That's to be expected, right? It's only Tuesday, so it could get bad. Not that I'm planning for it to, but I think it would be foolish to not be prepared for it. (I'm prepared as I'm gonna be, I guess.)

I keep getting flashes of memory pop into my head, moments with my boy that were not captured on video or photos, and not just a replay of the morning of last June 3 on repeat. Moments of joy. Yes, my heart breaks each time. But since I have spent a good deal of the last year in a fog that barely lets me function, let alone remember things, I have been thankful for these snippets as they come.

Last year on this day? I was holding him for an hour while I went through a rather trying morning of lineups and walking back and forth between my bank and the grocery store, while he slept like a sack of potatoes (and as heavy as one) because he was going through a growth spurt. My arms still ached from that on the morning I held him for the last time. If I had known, I would have focused more on the snuggles and less on my aching arms. Now, I treasure those last few days of cuddles with my worn-out, growing boy, because he normally had way too much energy to hold still that long.

Funny how hindsight gives us that perspective, isn't it?

Photo copyright william87. Licensed.

Every day is another step forward. Every day, grief morphs and whirls and changes into a different shape, like dancing aurora borealis. And while I don't think it will ever be possible to be thankful that Levi went home to heaven so soon, I can look back over the past year and be thankful for the steps I've made, the lessons learned, the relationships strengthened, the friends who stood by us, and the ways our loss has helped us be better human beings. Grief is only a shadowy replacement for the person lost, but walking through it, I can see its sometime beauty.

This past few weeks, I have also been surprised by the travelling companion that walks more often beside me on the road. Joy, you are welcome here. I won't be able to walk with you every day, or even the whole day, but thank you for sneaking up beside me and occasionally giving my hand a squeeze to remind me that you exist.

Jesus, thank you for sadness that heals. And thank you for joy, too. You are teaching me that this journey isn't really about me, anyway. Thank you for being the joy that I am rediscovering in the day-to-day.

In May, I focused on stories. That was easy, since this blog tells stories, most of them mine. But when it comes down to it, I only tell you my story (in all its sludgy messiness) in the hopes that you will not, in the end, see me. If my life has but one higher purpose, it is to show you how imperfect I am, but how amazing God is. Without him, I am nothing. And that's all.

My Story

Written by Mike Weaver and Jason Ingram
Performed by Big Daddy Weave (album: Beautiful Offerings)

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my saviour all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my saviour all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh, to tell you my story is to tell
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my saviour all the day long