And then February happened
In my last blog post, I revealed my kryptonite: not enough time. Sometimes I have discovered that many things in life can be both a blessing and a curse. Recently, not enough time seemed to fall into both categories for a bit. One of my best friends texted me and gently asked, “How you doing, momma?” My response of being a little overwhelmed with all the demands for my time gave her the perfect opening to ask what her heart really wanted to know.
It’s February. Is the schoolwork keeping your mind so busy that your heart hasn’t had time to make that connection?
I assured her there was balm and blessing in being so busy that you felt like the man in the donut commercial. A little manipulation to the phrase “time to make the donuts” would aptly describe my life in the hamster wheel of teaching and learning. And somehow my own personal busyness has resulted in the blessing of my heart not pining for the days to rush ahead so that I could say I survived the second month of the year again.
Although I hadn’t really acknowledged my feelings until the text exchange, keeping my mind busy definitely has kept my heart distracted.
That was until . . .
Over the weekend, our youngest had a basketball tournament far from home requiring a stay in a hotel. While relaxing between games, we just needed some down time from the rushing whirr of the previous week and we mindlessly flipped on the television. The pre-programmed starting channel was tuned to The Weather Channel which was airing a top ten series about America’s most destructive storms in recent years. One of those was a dark and ominous wall of swirling dirt in the southwestern United States. The middle of the day storm turned the area black as night and appeared without much warning.
Little did I know a small act of kindness a few hours later would do the same to my heart!
As we were wrapping up supper, we decided to sneak away to the hospital where our boys were taken after the bus crash. We have a legacy program there in memory of Reed where we give stuffed cheetahs (his favorite animal) to the surviving siblings of any other child who passes away at the same hospital. We also provide a baseball card sized note with each cheetah that tells about Reed’s life. The last cheetah delivery, we were short cards, and it is a big deal to me that the cheetahs have those cards. Not to draw attention to us, but so that Reed’s name is continued to be heard and spoken.
When we arrived at the hospital, we stopped at the information desk to try to ascertain where we should deliver the cards because we knew it might be different on the weekends. The operator put us through to the Children’s Wing, and it was decided that we should bring the cards there.
I should have politely declined, because my heart didn’t know what was coming. The day, unseasonably warm, but gray and rainy, provided the perfect foreshadowing of February lurking right behind the locked wing. As soon as we walked in, everything – all the sights, the smells, the memories, the pain of when we first arrived there nine years ago – came flooding back in. February pounced on us like that wall in the weather documentary a few hours earlier.
My heart beat so hard and fast, feeling like it was trying to protect itself by jumping out of my body in the hopes of not having to relive that all over. We have been back to the hospital over the years, but something about that day so close to Reed’s heaven date was just too much. My stomach churned, my knees grew weak, and my words became slurred as my mind tried to protect me from all the emotions. My arms ached to hug the boy who gave the best sneak-up-behind-you-hugs ever. Suddenly my soul went into overdrive wanting to protect and shield my children from all the hurts, knowing full well that my superpowers would not be enough. Yet in the midst of it all, clinging to the hope and the promise that Jesus always is.
We were well into the parking lot before I had the courage to ask my sweetie if that was as excruciatingly hard for him as it was for me. No real words were spoken by either of us, just a few shed tears as we embraced in the drizzling cold, gray rain symbolic of the life we never envisioned for ourselves. We had both rode grief’s crazy roller coaster even though we didn’t realize we had bought a ticket to ride that day.
Our hearts are still broken, but we know that February doesn’t win. Daily we receive encouragement from those who understand the aftershocks we feel each year. The hugs, the messages, the prayers and the just simply showing up mean more than I could ever explain. We know that God has promised to collect all our tears in his bottle and to shield us under wings. That hope and promise comfort us. And sometimes, even though February happened, we can feel God a little closer and for now knowing Reed is with him while he holds us tenderly is more than enough.