In Six Days -

In six days .... it will be June 2nd. June 2nd, 2014. 

We had a wonderful time in South Carolina for Sarah's wedding these past few days. There was laughter, memories shared, a gorgeous bride and a beaming groom, there was prayer and blessings given, and many tears. 

There have been multiple trips taken within a very few short weeks - first the unexpected trip to GA for Wade's memorial service...then just a few weeks later, we went to SC for Sarah's wedding (oh and I had an engagement shoot thrown in there too) and so I've been blocking things off in, well, keep from panicking and worrying about everything coming up. Which worked out great until I was driving home from Savannah yesterday with my parents and suddenly it hit me like a panic wave that I had 6 days until it was the anniversary. I had so completely blocked it out that now I'm left totally unprepared, defenseless, overwhelmed and panicked that it is here so soon. 

And tonight I'm really really REALLY mad that it is here so soon. I'm ticked beyond belief that it will be 2 years. I'm mad he is gone. I'm mad there is such a thing as HLH. I'm mad that there is a reason to be mad. I'm angry that time goes by so fast and I'm angry that I'm not closer to the time when I held him because my memories were so much clearer. I'm not angry a lot, but boy, grief will bring it on out of nowhere because as we all know - grief brings up every protective emotion there ever will be. 

I burst into tears three times tonight just thinking about how soon it is. 

It brings back memories that I can't change and make untrue. It brings panic-inducing-pain. 

The drive home the rest of the way was hard.....and then I got home and realized what date it was....3 years ago was the first time I met 4 month old Avery. From May 25 - May 28, 2012, I walked around with him strapped to my chest for a wonderful 3 days of FPEA - showing him off to some best friends, kissing him a million times, telling him stories in the back seat of the car, showing him the beach I'd prayed for him at, laughing at his dislike of the cold May ocean water, singing him to sleep underneath a book table, snuggling him every chance I got, taking him to my church, singing with him in my arms, and taking 400 pictures of his adorable face. 

It was JOY in the best form, 3 years ago....

and 2 years ago next week is the date Avery went to be with Jesus and we were all left here to wait a little longer.
I cried myself to sleep last night because it all still seems so very unreal. 

It feels like every possible emotion is hitting me at full blast and I don't know how to process any of it. 

The memory of him is with me every single day, and yet he is not here. He was only in my house for a day or two, in my space of the world for a few short days....I've never thanked God more for a trip than I have for the one that John and Audra made to bring Avery down here and allowing me to work FPEA with them. 

Those memories are sweeter than honeycomb on my lips. They remind me of what JOY feels like. 

The losing-him memories sting like swear words. The flashbacks break and shatter into a million gasps and words and screams and chords of songs I can barely think of. It is there when I try to work through it and it is there when I completely block it from my mind. 

The quiet after the screams is a silence I still hear in my mind. 

I've never understood less....I've never felt so small and crushed as that moment I heard he was gone. 
Jesus was crushed and broken for me in a mightier way than I will ever feel or know. 

But oh, Jesus. This is so hard. 

It's the little things no one can predict and then your friends all feel terrible because they've made you cry, and you are feeling terrible because you don't want everything to look like it's all about you. 

Someone doesn't know who Avery is. Someone names their kitty like the kitty who adored Avery. 
Someone's baby is the same age and I'm bawling my eyes out holding him. 
Someone lives longer than Avery did. Someone's baby is bald like he was. Someone named their baby Avery. 
Someone asks me why the last few years have been hard. Someone jokes about how much trouble babies are. Someone makes light of grief. Someone says the wrong thing. Someone has a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal like his that we bought together when they visited FL. 

You think that after 2 years, there won't be any more firsts and you are safe...and then WHAM. Out of nowhere something comes up and you are crying your eyes out in the corner because it's all so fresh and real and heartbreakingly true. 

When I came home from Savannah, I talked a long while with our dear Judy about things, and I mentioned that I'd been blocking things out and usually I try to prepare myself for hard anniversaries...and she said that as much as anyone tries to prepare for grief and anniversaries....there really is no preparing for it. It hits you in ways you'd never expect, and then you just have to go through it. You pray and cry and you get through it. 

So, so true. It was refreshing to have someone speak so honestly and truthfully about grief in a world where smoothing over pain, or shoving it under the rug where "your pain, God's gain" lives. 

I love this from Nancy Guthrie - "God does not discount or dismiss your tears. They are precious to Him because you are precious to Him. In fact, when God reveals glimpses of the culmination of human history - in a future that will fully reveal and be fully worthy of his glory - he includes, as a centerpiece, this promise in Isaiah 25:8 'The sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.'. Picture in your mind right now the Lord of the universe reaching down to gently and lovingly wipe away your tears. 

He doesn't ignore them or tell you that if you really had faith you wouldn't cry. He wipes them away. And Revelation 21:4 tells us that not only will He wipe away all tears, He will remove all of the sorrow that caused them. God's plan for the future is to destroy forever the evil that has brought you so much pain and then to live forever with you in a place he has lovingly prepared where there will be no more tears." 

Jesus does not remain silent in the darkness of this grief or in the face of my tears.
He promises to wipe them away and promises that "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." (Psalm 126:5) 

"I've walked the valley of death's shadow so deep and dark that I could barely breathe.
I've had to let go of more than I could bear and questioned everything that I believe.
But still even here in this great darkness - a comfort and hope come breaking through,
as I say in life or death, God we belong to You." ~ SCC

A few weeks back in a full blown panic, I decided I would trade money for peace any day. Hands down, in a heartbeat. So I did. Well, my parents graciously and lovingly paid my way, despite my offer. I'm flying back to CO again this year so I don't have to be here during the really hard days. I fly out June 1.

These next few days and weeks will be hard. So, so hard. But Jesus will be here. 
Please pray with us, for us. Pray for Avery's family 10x's more than the 1 time you pray for me. 
I covet the closeness of Christ for us all as we remember and miss Avery. May the presence of Christ be tangibly near and precious. 

With love and tears,
~ Jean Marie ~