I'm reflecting less these days. I don't like that but I know what it is. It's one part intentional busyness, and the other part pain avoidance. I keep moving, trying not to dwell on things for which I have no answers. At first, I went to that rock wall a hundred times a day asking my questions. It was a relentless search for understanding, and I continually banged at those hard, immoveable, unyielding walls. And when I hurt my head, over and over again, with banging at something that was never going to give way, I started going in different directions.
Less, "Why, God?". But more, "What, God?". What do we do with Joey now? What do we do with all this heartbreak? What place does someone who's gone have in our lives? What do we do with his precious things? What do we do with the fragile memories? What can we do to honor his memory? What is important enough to invest in now? What do we do with our broken lives?
Coming up with these answers is like digging in fallow ground. Unlike banging on the rock wall, there are answers to these questions. But it does require hard work to unearth them, and to unearth the right ones. So we are digging, digging, and slowly piecing the answers together, bit by bit. There is no manual. We have to figure it out prayerfully and purposefully. Sometimes through trial and error. What works for one doesn't always work for the others. What works today doesn't necessarily work tomorrow. But I pray we eventually end up with something that all of us can support.
We are learning how to have a relationship with Joey's spirit which is alive and well in Heaven. We stay connected with Joey through memories, dreams and the artifacts of his life. Sunday morning worship always connects me with him as I imagine him doing the same thing we are doing, but in Paradise and at the throne of God. Taking care of his car, "Gunther", is another way of connecting. This one turns out to be an expensive proposition as his VW Vanagon is over 20 year old and, like me, it deteriorates with each new day. This blog and his facebook page help to preserve some of the memories, and so I will keep it going. Memories are difficult because they are fading as time goes on, and thus we have to intentionally remind each other to remember this story or that bit--constant mental archiving to last us till we see him again. Anniversary dates will continue to be a source of anxiety for a long time because they are such big reminders of our loss. I just accept that there will never be the "perfect" way to honor the big days--the day of his birth and the day of his death-- adequately.
The quest to find a way to honor his memory is ongoing. We have still not found a clear cut living memorial, though we have tried several on to see if they fit--causes related to epilepsy, sudden death, trees, music, a Compassion child who shares his name or birthday, Operation Smile...and others. That one is still fluid--we are in search of the right cause, one that sustains our passion. I envy those mothers like Karen Gerstenberger who have created a foundation to their child's memory. With every quilt, her beautiful daughter Katie's memory is honored. But since that is not our story, we continue to trust that in time some just-right-thing will stand out. I would love to know how others do this.
As for finding what is worthy of my time and money investment, that too is a matter of trial and error. For me now, teaching Sunday School rings the bell. I have never been the slightest bit interested in teaching children at church. I could barely get my own in the doors on time, and this harried mother couldn't wait to sit down and be a spectator in the pews. But now I want to have a part in helping every little child I know be prepared for both the moral choices and the suffering and heartbreak that inevitably lie ahead in their lives.
I am so grateful that Joey had that foundation as a child. It didn't make him perfect, but it did help to make him wonderful. And at his final breath, I do believe that his relationship with God, and God's great mercy for those who trust Him, was the most important factor in determining his eternal destiny. So Sunday School, with all its time-sucking preparation and it's creative challenges (cuz it's a sin to bore a child in Jesus' name), and the post-church fatigue from having engaged 25 busy little minds with busy fingers and wiggly bodies, seems very much worth the investment...
...and I don't have to reflect much to see the truth in that.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.