June 1, 2016 -

It was over a year ago when I had a conversation with our dear Judy 
(our resident and much loved honorary grandmother who knows much about loss) 
about what happens when sad memories hit, and what we can possibly do about it. 

I stood in her driveway, with tears choking the back of my throat, 
and talked about the upcoming anniversary of Avery leaving our world so suddenly. 

I waved my hands helplessly: "I've tried everything, Judy!!! 
I've tried pretending it didn't happen at all (which doesn't work). 
I've tried blocking it out, and I've tried being present in whatever sadness or joy I feel. 
I've tried praying it away and I've tried singing it away.
I've tried every distracting project I can throw myself into, 
and I've tried reliving it all just as it happened, which hurts SO much
(which is THE WORST because you feel like you are dying more and more every minute)! 
I've tried everything I can think of, and no matter what happens, it still.....hits me."

With great compassion in her eyes, Judy looked at me and said these simple words of truth:
"You know, Jean Marie...." and she paused to pull a breath "I learned a long time ago, 
there gets to be a point when you really can't do anything about it but SURVIVE IT. 
You just get through itIt might not get better, but you will make it through." 

I cried on her driveway, right then and there, because she was right. 

June 1 is hard. June 2 is harder. 

The two weeks surrounding the date of losing Avery are the worst. I do not sleep without nightmares.
Or I sleep restlessly, and lie awake with long hours in between. Remembering he is not here. 
It is not cured by anything. It is called grief, and it comes calling every year, 
for these few weeks, even my subconscious knows I'm sad. 

It's hard remembering that 4 years ago, Avery was alive in Tennessee, but now he's not. 
Now he is alive, very much alive, more alive than we've ever been, but he's not in the Notgrass home in Missouri,
playing with his two adorable younger brothers.
He's in a beautiful Narnia-like Dreamland we haven't seen yet, and I'm so happy for him!!
 It must be so lovely and wonderful there. 

But my heart aches that he is not here. My heart aches for my beloved Audra & John, Henry & Toby, 
and the great loss they suffered when God took Avery so suddenly, so very suddenly. 

At around noon today, I knew I needed the best comfort and joy I could have, and asked if I could
invade Tricia's space for the day. She lovingly said yes, and so here are the snippets from today. 

"The very best thing to distract yourself & take away the sad is to surround yourself with children.
I spent the better part of the day coloring and listening to stories and playing with these two dear little men: David & Ryan."

"Would you hold my hand through life's long and troubled roads...."
All the best of simple joys to remind me love is alive and so am I." 

"Sitting on the wooden counters that Emily's Ben made but is now Tricia's kitchen, 
and eating ice cream out of the carton because "a bowl tarnishes it"
 and NOT solving the world's problems because we have enough to talk about besides. 
Because we both want to live faithfully through pain and grief even though it cuts like a knife 
and feels like a swear word and most people don't understand.

Honestly, we don't get it either.

But we trust the One Who does, and I'm grateful to have her to walk with me through the worst words
and flashback memories of the day we lost Avery. She's praying for me, and more so, she's praying for you, Notgrass family. 
You are very loved. And I am very loved. And Tricia is very loved. 
And the One Who loves us all so much was loving on June 1, 2012, and still the same on June 2, 2012. 
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." {Hebrews 13:8} 

Love you, Tricia. You healed the hurt today."

It is June 1, 2016. "The Night Before". The very very bad night before,
when I stayed up all night on calls back and forth with Elle and Facebook updates and
texts from the Throwers and constant, believing, every breath breathing out prayer.
At midnight, I sat in the very chair I'm in now, a cell phone pressed against my ear,
with Elle speaking words of the implications of his critical condition:
"Jemmie. It's bad. He might not......It's bad.", and in the silence that stretched on,
I whispered in realization: "We could lose him. Oh God, we could lose him." 

I finally laid down in my bed to rest and pray, confident that God would wake Avery up in the morning. 
I go to bed tonight confident that God awoke Avery that morning, and healed him instantly. 
I go to bed confident that God will one Day come and we shall awake to a New Life more Glorious.

And all shall be made right forever and always! And we will never say Goodbye ever again! 
And the first week of June won't hurt anymore, because all the sadness will be gone. 
We shall SEE Avery again, and we shall be with Jesus. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 


  1. My eyes overflow, spilling sympathy in liquid drops. I lost a brother years ago. I too look forward to the day our Lord awakes his children for Glory! *hugs very tight*


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