In case you’re wondering if joy will ever return, I want to assure you that it most certainly can.
It will take a lot longer than you wish it might, but it is there, waiting for you to welcome it.
At first it just felt WRONG to have a moment of happiness because if the pain of missing Dominic somehow didn’t fill my heart I was afraid it meant my love for him was fading. If the broken pieces were knitted back together then maybe one day they’d mend so well I couldn’t find the spot where he fit in.
But I’ve learned no amount of present joy will squeeze out that space where Dominic lives.
I can love him, miss him, sorrow over his absence and still revel in the beautiful blessings the Lord brings into my life.
Just this week I had the privilege of watching my grandson while his mother and father had a little time away. It was so much fun (and hard work!). I had forgotten how exciting it is to view the world through a young child’s eyes. Everything is new, everything is wonderful, everything is worthy of exploration and comment.
The little fellow walked down the hall my great-grandmother walked, my grandmother walked and my mother walked pointing a finger and asking, “This?” as he passed photos and paintings, doo dads and doorways.
The sixth generation to hear the creaking hardwood and learn about life.
We showed him family photos and talked about Uncle Dominic. It raised a lump in my throat each time but it also helped me place Dom in his story-helped me learn how to talk about the uncle he will never know except for what we share.
I’m not going to lie.
More than a few times tears threatened to make their way down my cheek as I held his little hand and remembered holding another one just like it decades ago. Nostalgia can be hard to swallow when it’s all you have left of someone you love.
But I reminded my heart that it is big enough for both.
I can miss what I once had ANDdelight in what I have now.
I’m pretty sure THIS holiday season will be different for a lot of folks. Fears surrounding the pandemic may force even the most ardent traditionalists to change their plans.
But some will still forge ahead with all the usual expectations.
So I wanted to share this post NOW while there is time for conversation and adjustment.
Trust me, waiting doesn’t make it any easier.
I know it is hard. I know you don’t truly understand how I feel. You can’t. It wasn’t your child.
I know I may look and act like I’m “better”. I know that you would love for things to be like they were: BEFORE.But they aren’t.
I know my grief interferes with your plans. I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years. But I can’t help it. I didn’t ask for this to be my life.
I know that every year I seem to need something different. I know that’s confusing and may be frustrating. But I’m working this out as I go. I didn’t get a “how to” manual when I buried my son. It’s new for me every year too.
There’s a saying in the South, “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill”.
It’s supposed knock sense into someone who is overreacting to a small and easily resolved problem. Most of the time it works-stepping back and gaining perspective is a good thing.
But I find that this side of Dominic’s leaving, many, many things that were mole hills before are MOUNTAINS now. Because my faith in my own ability to handle things has become so very small, nearly any challenge feels like a never-ending ascent up the mountain.
I’ve had the privilege of keeping my grandson this week.
It’s the first time he’s been away from his mom and dad since he was born early and stayed in NICU for over two months.
So it’s no wonder the first night he was here and sleeping in a different room with light coming through the windows from the moon and casting strange shadows his sleepy eyes told his little brain there was something to fear.
What started as a whimper grew to a full on desperate cry and I could tell it wasn’t just restless sleep-he was startled and afraid.
So I picked him up, held him close to my chest, nestled his head under my chin and whispered, “It’s alright. You’re not alone. I love you.” I rubbed his back, calmed him down and he was able to drift off to sleep once again sure he was safe.
When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I felt like I’d been picked up from the world I knew and understood and thrust into one where everything was unfamiliar, frightening and potentially dangerous.
There were strange shadows everywhere.
I not only whimpered, I cried out in desperation for some solace, some confirmation that I was seen, heard and loved.
As my perfect, faithful, loving Father, God reminded my heart He was there in the dark when the shadows threatened to undo me.
One of my favorite verses is found in Zephaniah and is a picture of God gathering His people in His arms, comforting them with His love and singing peace and joy over their souls.
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. ~ Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
When I listen I can hear Him sing over me.
When I am still, He covers me with His grace.
When I lean into His arms and rest my head on His chest, I am filled with strength and peace.