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To my Sunshine . . .

February 20, 2015

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Dear Reed:

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been dreading this day. My friends all know it, and they do their very best to love me through it. There are extra hugs, more texts just checking in, and offers to “sock ‘em in the nose” for the people who seem to get great joy inflicting wounds when we are down. The first two warm my heart, and the last one just makes me laugh. As January draws to an end, I don’t want to flip the calendar to February. Just the name of the month is too painful to bear.

For the last few weeks, I have struggled to eat and sleep, and have felt I was one tear drop away from releasing Niagara Falls. If I let one drop fall, a gusher was going to follow and I might not be able to stop. I knew this day – the day that changed my life forever – would come again.

I decided to avoid thinking about it, other than planning a date with a Kleenex box. I knew your siblings would be going to school; so aside from being trying to be strong and available for them, my plan was to do nothing but be kind and gentle to myself. Daddy chose to spend the day with me, taking a day off from work. You know how difficult that is for him to do; so, the tears leaked a little at his decision.

All that tossing and turning through sleepless nights resulted in a big neck ache. As I walked past the kitchen table on my way to the hot tub, I saw a beautiful jar I recently won. Emblazoned on the side are the words, “There is hope”. Today I clung to that promise. As I let my thoughts soak away in the steamy waters, my sadness was carried to God’s ears on the melodic notes of birdsong. More tears leaked out as I realized your garden was full of beautiful little birds singing the songs of hope to me. God knew what I needed to help me smile through my watery eyes.

Throughout the day, the tears came off and on like when the lady at doctor’s office realized who I was and said, “Oh this has to be a hard day for you.” Ma’am, you have no idea. More tears after the doctor saw my shirt (the last Reed’s Run one that both Erin and I chose to wear today) and in the middle of his explanation of my lab tests exclaimed, “you are truly a woman who loves her God. Romans 8:38 – 39 on your shirt. It just caught my eye.” and then just shook his head. I try, Doctor. I really, really try. I just don’t know any other way. The leaking just kept on coming when an unexpected text came asking how someone could support Sister. Even more came after the love ambush this afternoon.

Grief is a messy thing, Reed. Some of those tears were of sadness. Others were of joy and relief for the amazing grace-filled love that comes from the best friends I could have never imagined, let alone ever dreamed of asking for. Without their love and the grace of our Lord, I don’t know that we would have ever made it this far. We are far from through it. How could we ever get over you?

You were our sunshine. Even though you are not here, your spirit’s light still shines brightly. You are still here – just like the lyrics of the song shared with us today. We carry you in our hearts, our memories, and our stories. We share those stories over and over because we want every memory to still be alive in Sally’s mind. She was so tiny when you had to go home with Jesus, but there are so many times that I stare at her because she sounds just like you. She loves learning and reading and math and superheroes and Legos and animals – all the things you loved. You would bubble over with excitement as she is reading some of your old books, whipping right through them like you did. She has the same reactions when she watches the movies too! But the thing that most reminds me of you happened at her parent-teacher conference; her teacher shared how incredibly kind she is. More tears leaked out on that February day.

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Then there are Sister and Sawyer. You would be so proud. Your light, that today basks in the glory of heaven, shines so brightly in them. They hold true to the values that our family holds dear, even when it isn’t cool or popular. They root for the underdog, and they give back in the best of ways. They hit rough patches, but time and time again, they have proven they are resilient. Remember that time when Erin got hurt on her bike, and you picked her up and carried her down the block back home to my loving arms. There are so many times they both wish they could have done the same for you on that awful February day. If it is true that the angels pray on our behalf (and I believe it is), always, always ask them to hold your brother and sisters close to their hearts. Where you live, there are no tears, no sadness, but trust me, Reedy, there is plenty of that to go around back here on earth. Sadness doesn’t define our days, but there are the moments when it engulfs us.

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Maybe, just maybe, tears bring us closer to God, who reminds us this is not our forever home. Homesickness has a completely different meaning when we look through that lens. Another thing about those tears is they clear our myopic vision to truly see the blessings and as much as there is sadness, there blessings to infinity and beyond we encounter every day. Tears have also removed scales from our eyes so that we more easily see when someone else is hurting, and perhaps that is what God had planned for all of us for now. What if blessings come through raindrops and healing comes through tears are more than just song lyrics; they are truly the reminders of hope that keeps our eyes looking to heaven and our ears listening to the birds, who are whispering God’s love in every note.

Through my tears, I see the blessings – including the time God shared you with us. Always wishing it was for a lot longer and always loving you until I can hug you again!

Momma

 You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

you’ll never know, Reed, how much I love you

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