It’s been ten years, and I’ll never stop crying.
No, I don’t cry all the time or even every day or even every week. But on certain days, like September 12, I’ll need my Kleenex.
And today is September 12. I drove with my husband, Bob, to the gravesite. He pulled his hand clippers from the plastic grocery bag. He began trimming the overgrown grass and weeds. Next, he got out a cloth and carefully cleaned the brass footer. I just stared. It was our usual gravesite ritual.
Then Bob surprised me when he pulled out the Nike shoes. It was the pair John wore until he had no need for shoes. We kept them. Reminded us of our active son.
Then Haylee, our golden retriever puppy, took a liking to the shoes. She would carry one around then place it on the carpet. Then she’d get the match and place it next to its mate. Odd. She never did that with any of the other shoes in the house. Only John’s Nikes.
Now was the appropriate time to part with the shoes. Bob placed a shoe on either side of the brass footer. With a colored marker, he penned a message on the top of each shoe. One said, “We miss you.” The other said, “We love you.”
I cried. Bob cried. We left the shoes and walked the fifty feet back to our car. We had to dodge other gravesites where loved ones had carefully placed flowers.
Now a few hours later I’m grieving those shoes. It’s one more thing that we’ve had to part with the meant something to John. And since his death anything that was special to John is now special to us. I’ve kept more memorabilia from John’s life than from the other three children.
There will be no more things to collect from John. No new memories. A permanent missing piece to our family. And now a day in the calendar with a 100 percent chance of me crying. A day I don’t look forward to. A reminder of a life cut short.
What has changed in ten years? Lots in the world and in our family has changed. We’ve all gotten older and the other kids have moved on into adulthood.
What else has changed? Me. I’m different. I find my thoughts about life and death have shifted toward the eternal. Heaven is more real to me. I have a son there. I now look upward expectantly.
Things that bothered before I realize don’t matter. My perspective has changed. My life is simpler. Stuff doesn’t have the same hold on me.
I also know deep within the truth that if we know the Lord, . . . absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). That’s what the good news is all about.
That’s why in the midst of my sadness I have hope.
I’m looking forward to when God calls me home. And on that day, I’ll also leave my favorite pair of athletic shoes behind. Because where I’m going I won’t need them or my Kleenex.
How have you changed since your loss?
Dee Lundgren – A New Life Network Counselor
If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide and need support, please know we’re here for you. We can pray with you, help you find a counselor, and get you connected with a support group. To find out more, please call us 1-800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433).