Six years ago we were in the midst of a beautiful weekend. That Sunday was spent hiking and climbing the cliffs of Giant City State Park with my parents.
We had a picnic lunch under a pavilion as we waited for a rain shower to end. The kids thought it funny when grandma tried her first taste of Pepper Jack cheese and immediately dubbed it "evil cheese." We ate ice cream in a joint that could have been the setting of an old western movie.
It was hot and humid, just like today, but grandpa toted Laynee on his arm all day long. Grandpa and his youngest granddaughter formed a bond that weekend. He was her newest hero and she added Papaw to her vocabulary. We all laughed at her sweet little girl antics. We loved her. We adored her.
Six years ago today, life was so good, so happy, so free of grief and trauma.........and then it wasn't.
I wasn't taken off guard by the feelings that greeted me this morning. They are a familiar part of grief and loss. I know them well and have come to expect them. What does come as a surprise is the intensity of the feelings. How can it be that, six years later, the wounds can still be bleeding? How can it be so raw, so fresh?
Labor Day weekend will forever mark the anniversary of the last time we held her. It hurts, it always will. I've long ago given up the ridiculous notion of "getting over it," as society would like for us to do. My heart, my life has moved on but I'll never be "over it."
After six years, I have come to understand and expect that somewhere around the middle of August, around the time that school starts, my senses begin preparing my heart for this weekend. There comes a day, each year, when I step out my door and I know it's that time. Something seems to change in the atmosphere. The air feels different, hot and dry. The morning dew is thicker. It smells like a combination dry leaves and corn ripening for harvest, a smell forever stamped in my mind as the "smell of Laynee's death." It's the smell that permeated the air as our horror unfolded and we fought to bring back life. Bright colorful dahlias and mums begin to make their appearance and my mind knows those are the flowers of Laynee's funeral. I hear the sound of a hunter's gunshot somewhere in the distance, another reminder that it's that time of year. All of the senses come together bringing memories of our last days with her.
A couple days ago a photo came up on a my facebook timeline. "You posted this 4 years ago," it said. Four years ago, three years ago, every year since 2009, this weekend has been painful. We've remembered and we will continue to remember.
Last week a friend ask me, "will it be better the day after Labor Day?" It won't. There will be foggy memories of her funeral, of putting her in the ground,, of broken hearts, wounded children, and trying to go on when our world had crashed. It won't be better right away, but it will get better. We've been here before. The pain will not go away but neither will it remain in the fore-front of our hearts.
Good things will come again. We'll laugh again. We'll know peace and happiness and joy. But not today, not this weekend.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
God is good, all the time.