*Just to be clear, I know that Kevin is not reading this note. Thankfully, Scripture promises us that heaven includes no tears, sorrow, pain, or grief, so if Kevin can see anything happening here on this broken planet, I feel confident he sees it only through God's lens. He sees what God sees; the whole picture, the beautiful picture that He has weaved from the beginning of time and the beautiful artwork of our lives that brings only joy and peace. Or, there's no big picture window and he's got better things to do than keep tabs on what's happening here (you know, like spend his days worshiping his Savior.) But, today, this is the easiest way to express my heart as we near this big first anniversary--the first anniversary of Kevin's Perfect Healing Day.
I am sitting here, one day shy of just being a week away from living without you for one full year. Oh, the emotions. You'd laugh at my tears, say how much you love how sensitive I am, and then hug me and watch some West Wing with me. I am so glad you always put up with my drama!
Oh, how I miss you. How all three of us miss you! The kids miss you most at bedtime. You were the King of Bedtime. It was their favorite time of day. The way you'd take time to read to them and create fun stories each night. Most of the time you even played some fun little game with them. Then you'd get them each tucked into their own beds, do another fun story just for each one of them, tell them how much you love and and how proud you were of them, and then you prayed with each of them. It seriously took 45 minutes each night. I loved getting to hear their giggles and your sweet conversations with them. Bedtime isn't my thing, but we've created our little tradition for bedtime and I've learned to go to each of their rooms to say good night, even when I am tired and that's the last thing I want to do. It isn't perfect, but we're slowly all coming to look forward to that portion of the day.
Sophie had her first "I don't have a daddy to do that with" moment just a week or so ago. It was hard. We shed lots of tears. But, we survived, God gave me words, we had a few laughs, and we'll do our best to prepare our hearts for when the next one of those moments comes up. E and I had a fun first this week when we worked on his first Pinewood Derby car. (I am using the term "we" loosely. Thankfully a great guy from church stepped in and did the real work!) In typical E fashion he didn't mention your absence or go on about how much he wished you had been here to help instead of me, but we still felt your absence all the same.
I've done two interviews to share your story in the last two weeks. It feels a but surreal, if I am honest. Surreal that you aren't here. Surreal that you won't be walking through the door any time soon. Surreal that there's even a story to tell or that anyone would want to hear it. Surreal that almost a year later the memories of that hard day are still fresh, grief still seems to rule my mind, and that it still takes hard, intentional work to see and remember all the grace and gifts of God in the midst of this story. This story I never wanted to be living, yet now is just everyday life.
I've only started one new TV series since you left. This Is Us is wonderful and I love it. You would have said it was too dramatic. You would have felt the same way about this as you did about Parenthood, which you never really got into, despite how much I enjoyed it! There's only one show I watch every.single.day. The one we both loved from the first episode and that we watched almost every day together from the moment we were introduced to it: The West Wing. I throw in some The Office every now and then, too. I can hear your laugh at every joke Michael makes and every dumb thing Dwight does. I can hear you laughing at me as I get weepy over Josh and Donna and the series finale for each show.
You were the Josh to my Donna and the Jim to my Pam. Every day. The perfect complement to my crazy, drama-filled life. You were logic, love, and just what I needed. You didn't like writing and you always felt you could never create words to the melodies that you would sit and pick out on your guitar, but your notes were so perfect and so full of love to me every time, just like Josh's note to Donna in that old book he gave her for Christmas and Jim's note to Pam in the tea pot (even though we have no idea what was really in those notes.) You always made me laugh, regardless of how cheesy your jokes might be. I am not sure my heart will ever recover. I can't imagine my heart ever knitting with another like it did with yours. And I am OK with that. Even after almost a year, I still sleep only on my side of the bed, never straying over to your side. There are no pillows there. It remains untouched until one of the kids sits there while we read or lays down there as we watch a movie. That's your spot and I can't even imagine it feeling comfortable to lay there. And that's OK, too.
Grief has been hard. And long. And it drives me crazy. Most days I lay in bed for up to an hour just begging God for the motivation and energy to actually get out of bed and start the day. School has not gone as smoothly or as well as I wanted, but we're making it. The strangest things take my breath away and make me just want to sit down and cry. Some days it's really hard not to focus on those things. But the truth is, life is sweet. God is moving. We are making it. There is far more good going on in our little lives than there is sad. I just have to keep seeking God and asking Him to give me the eyes see that truth. Every.day. I've seen growth in the kids. They are both more compassionate. More loving. More kind. More quick comfort others. More quick to find the funny moment, even in a sad one. I've grown and changed so much I am not sure you'd even recognize me. Just because we love the show, I'd say it's somewhat like watching Donna or CJ grow into the confident, capable characters they become by the end of the show. This has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God never leaving, always showing up, and doing miraculous things I could never actually explain. I don't know that I could even tell you the ways I am different, I just know I am. And that makes me somewhat sad because I know that I am a better person today than I was the day you passed away. Which means I'd be a better wife, friend, and fighter for you today than I was then. BUT GOD knows best and I must choose to trust that, though this is hard, it really is best for us, best for you, and brings Him the most glory. I don't understand it, but I must trust it.
So, in just 6 days we'll be facing the reality that life without you is the new normal. That grief is our new reality, in varying degrees, for as long we have breath here on this earth. I choose to look on that day with joy and hope and to do my best to push the sadness aside. We won't be looking at that day as the day you died, but rather as your Perfect Healing Day. It will be a day to celebrate the truth that once a life is turned over to Christ there is nothing that can steal that life from His hands. It's a day to celebrate that truth that ONE DAY all things will be made new, death and destruction will be no more, and illness will vanish for eternity. This will be a day of celebration for your healing and wholeness, not a mourning of your loss. I pray that this will be how we view every March 10 from now until we join you or Christ returns. I know there will be tears, there will be missing you, but more than that, I want it to be a day of praise and acknowledgment of God's goodness and love, even in the hard. Even when things don't go the way we want. Even when our prayers are answered in the most opposite way possible.
Father, hold us. Comfort us. Give us eyes to see Your goodness. Remind us of Your goodness in the hard moments. Give us energy in the tired moments. Give us the courage to fight the grief that the enemy wants to use to keep us from living for You. Continue to heal us and hold us. Fill my mouth with Your words each time the tears and fears and hard moments of not having an earthly father when everyone else does threaten to overcome my children. Use their lack of an earthly Father to draw them to You even more as the good Father You are to them. Oh, Father, let today be the day of salvation for Ethan! Move and work in Sophie through Your Holy Spirit as You make her more like You each day. Fill my mouth with your words and give me the courage to step out in obedience to share our story when You ask me to do so.