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Messing with my memories

June 7, 2014

Not that long ago, I had lunch with a new-to-the-journey, grieving momma. While this isn’t how I expected my life to go, I am thankful that God has given me a heart that can help others find peace. However, if it were up to me, this would be an exclusive sorority, and we wouldn’t be having any new pledges. Sadly, though there will be other children that pass away, and we will have new members in this club that none of us ever wanted membership.

I am not an expert on grief.   I am just one momma with a prayer that God would give her a heart that breaks like his does. God does answer prayers. Hence my journey of sharing our story and the agonizing aftermath that grief leaves in its wake.

This year our family has chosen joy as our theme word. We are committed to finding joy in our daily lives. Personally, what I didn’t expect in the hunt were the auxiliary truths I would uncover: beauty, creativity, resilience, silliness, simple moments, but mostly, contentment.

“Be careful what you wish for” certainly has its merits as well. Because even though we were in search of joy in God’s plans for our lives, this does not mean that there haven’t been obstacles. Along the way thus far, we have had several moments of sucker punching despair. I mean, lie in the bed for four days and cry despair! The dark place which stays that way until we ask for God to illuminate our path.

Every single time he does.

The journey to joy is a long and twisted one.

Most days are really good days; as it was when I was savoring every bite of my salad with my new friend.

How do you do this?

The simple answer is you just do. This amazing woman of faith needed real answers while her heart was freshly broken, and I really felt led that day to bare my soul, even if it meant to pick a scab off one of the scars of my heart.

You will get through this.

God grieves with you. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but he does.

Experiencing this deep of a hurt has truthfully allowed me to learn to love with abandon.

Eventually we settled back into a comfortable Q & A session about first birthdays and holidays, and then she asked a question that I had forgotten that I had an answer.

How do you get anywhere in this town without driving by a memory?

I stopped mid-bite, my mind transported back to the alternate routes we would drive to avoid seeing places that Reed loved. At six years later, like words written in the sand, my mind completely washed away the sanity saving (albeit not time saving) measures we had taken to avoid the crash site and various other places that were just too hard to endure.

Time had erased that particular pain.

My honest answer was we simply figured out ways to avoid those locations until our hearts told us we were ready to go back again. One grieving momma’s solution was the only response I had to offer.

About a month later, I was driving by one of those memory locations. After a quick look to my right, I felt like the weight of the world tumbled down upon me.

To everyone else in the world, it appeared to be an old forgotten football field replaced a few years back by an event center (in a different location) with fancy turf, not plain ol’ Minnesota sod. The bleachers had been neglected from the glory days of football games, marching band events, and concerts.

Progress often stops for no man . . . nor a momma’s grief. What my eyes espied was no different. Bulldozers and earth movers were ripping apart the ground to create a new regional sports complex.


My heart hurt because the last Memorial Day he was alive, Reed, Sawyer, and Erin (along with their Scout troops) helped place flags there in honor and memory of every soldier that had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. It was a sea of flags.

He was so proud to place one in memory of our local fallen hero.

Later that night, we took our whole family out to reflect before the flags would be removed the next day. I remember him so tenderly kneeling down trying to explain to his two-year-old sister what the flags meant.


These weren’t just any American flags.  These remembered heroes. These are special.

So was that moment.

The old stadium might have been forsaken, but in my heart, it was hallowed ground.

The progress that will surely make our town even more amazing was messing with my memories. How did I know that I would have a new answer for some distant question about dealing with changes to your memories?

As I sat in my parked car with tears in my eyes, I remembered that God had shone his love in every part of our story thus far. Today would be no different. Although his creation was being changed, my memory of that beloved moment had not.

From here on out, it will be lovingly held in my heart – a safe . . . and joyful . . . place forever.

  1. Thank you for this. For reminding me that there will still be days that the grief will consume. For sharing the lovely (and at the same time heartwrenching) memory of your son at that place that stirred the grief into a storm, if only for a second. And, thank you for reminding me that God is present and whole, even in those moments when you feel most alone in your pain. Blessings to you and yours.

    • Vanessa – You are most welcome. Sometimes I think I should also be careful what I pray for (as in the heart that breaks like God’s). While the sharing of our story definitely is healing, it is at time gut-wrenching. But I know he will use this for His glory until I see my son again. Blessings to you, and thanks for stopping by! Kandy

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