Over my little break, on August 23, we celebrated Andrew’s birthday. He would have been 20 years old this year.
We decided to head west and do some hiking in the Appalachian Mountains. We’d revisit a trail we’d hiked with Andrew and remember the summer we spent a week camping with him in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado…. He was 11 months old. So we headed out early Sunday morning. The weather was gorgeous, the top off the Corvette, and the day a wonderful success.
While we hiked on Stony Man Mountain, I reflected on the concept of grief. 15 years have gone by since we lost Andrew. That’s a lot of years! But just 2 days earlier, I’d come home from my first week back to school in a new position, tired from the intensity of the week, and it all just hit me. Another birthday to celebrate without the guest of honor.
It all swirled up within me with an intensity that caught me a bit off guard. Usually it builds up over the weeks leading to his day. I guess the newness of the job kept it more at bay, so when the weekend came and I could pause with my work, it all poured over me like a flood. 15 years maybe, but still grief can hit hard.
But as I sat upon the rock outcropping and looked out over the Shenandoah Valley, I noticed the rocks around me. A little farther down, I saw a sharp, pointy rock formation. The points looked jagged and freshly broken. That’s what the grief used to feel like- sharp, serrated edges that wounded deep and left jagged scars.
But then I compared that to the rocks upon which I sat. There were still some uncomfortable points, and the rocks were just as heavy. But the edges were more worn, rounded, and overall less painful. That’s more what the grief feels like now. It still weighs me down at times, but the barbs are more like bumps. I more easily recover when grief hits. The wounds aren’t as deep or as cutting. It’s still hard, but not as piercing.
And in looking at the rocks, I could acknowledge that some healing has come.
Grief will never not be a part of my life. But the truth of God’s peace and the security of inner joy has worn down the jagged edges that pierced so deeply. Time doesn’t heal, but it allows God to heal.
And I found I could rejoice in the midst of those rocks, in the midst of the grief, because God is greater; because He has the final word;
Because He lives, my boys do too!
I’m not sure there’s a succinct lesson in this post. I think I just more wanted to share with you the picture that I saw that Sunday… a picture of God’s grace in my life. A gift for me on Andrew’s birthday….