As I look back over those first two years – reading posts, blog articles, and my personal notes – I am struck by how raw my wound was and how excruciating daily living was. I see the pain, the sorrow, and intense grief I experienced in those first months. I see how simple tasks were extremely difficult. I remember how hard it was dealing with the paperwork and the decisions we had to make. And I am in awe that I no longer walk in that pain. I no longer walk in a fog of constant sorrow and grief.
There is a void in my life that only Andrew filled. I miss his laugh, his stomping through the house, his hugs, and his stories. Nothing will ever replace my son in my life. I still have moments and even days of sadness. Some memories still bring tears. I see his friends dance, graduate, get new jobs, or get married, and these things bring a twinge of regret that I don’t get to see Andrew do those things. I hate that his nephews won’t know him like they will know their other uncles and aunts. Yes, I will grieve my son until I die.
However, those early days of sorrow so deep that I physically ached are gone. The days of doubt, sobbing, and aching have passed. Seeing an old picture of all four of my boys together no longer takes my breath away. I no longer count the days, weeks, or months since I saw him last or since the date of his death. I no longer cry each time I see a picture of him or hear his name. I no longer wake up with my pillow wet from my tears. Death is no longer a central theme in my thoughts.
Pictures and stories of my son bring a smile. I enjoy looking back at his Facebook, seeing photos of him with his friends, and hearing stories of their antics. I rejoice at seeing his friends growing and living. I know that they were changed for the better by having Andrew in their lives, and I know that they have not forgotten him.
Friends, family, and of course grandchildren bring me joy. I have peace. I sleep well. Sometimes I dream of Andrew, and I am glad. I ride my bike, travel with Ron, and mow my property. I read great books, study my Bible, and enjoy movies and TV. I play with my dogs, visit with friends, and go out to eat. In short, I live.
I know I have forgotten things about Andrew, stories he told, little things. I see pictures and wish he were here to tell me the backstory. I miss Andrew.
I know my son lived. He lived well. He still lives.
My heart is no longer broken. I no longer ache all over. I no longer think of death, dying, grief, and pain much of the time. Yes, there is a void. Yes, there is a scar. Yes, I have experienced loss. But in Christ I have found peace, joy, and strength to go forth and do the next right thing. This is what I mean when I say my broken, shattered heart has been healed by a loving, gracious, living God. When I say that I have found healing after The Accident, I don’t mean that I no longer grieve.
As you try to comfort a mother or father who has experienced the death of a child – a child of any age and by any cause – remember that they will grieve their child forever. Or at least until we join them in Heaven. Please know that their birthday and the date of their death will always be difficult days. Even when it doesn’t look like they still grieve, please know that they miss their child.
Mention our children. Share your memories. Acknowledge our pain.
And pray for us. Pray that we find joy. Pray that we have happy memories. Pray that we find healing in a loving, living God.