In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Film of Before and After

This space on the internet still seems to be the place where I continue to work through death. It's so sacred and precious to me. I have had so many distractions from death, since Dave died.  I had back surgery, I've had a new marriage, I've had step sons.  I've had the task of raising kids.  Some of these things are good, but mostly they are just plain hard.

About six months after Dave died, I heard, second hand, someone say that they didn't want to move on from the death of their husband, because they liked the attention they got. I decided right there, in that moment, that I was NOT going to be that person, so I was going to move forward.  I think that I may have short circuited my grief with distractions and determination.  It wasn't because it was too painful, it was because, I just want to be a normal person. A person without so much crisis in my life.  A person with too much crisis, is a person who tires people out. That's the belief that I have held.  It's a lie, but I can't seem to shake it. I can believe that other people carrying so much chaos need grace and care, but for me, I believe that my chaos is just plain tiring.

Anyway, here I am, back to dealing with death. What has struck me so hard lately is that death casts a shadow in every direction. It feels inescapable. What brought this to such clarity are the earthly possessions that most of us would grab first if there is a fire in our house.  Photographs. They are precious and irreplaceable.  They help bring memories into focus.  They evoke sentiment and emotion.  But when unexpected death crashes into life, all photographs take on the shadow of death. Every photograph within a 10 year span is now categorized into BEFORE and AFTER.  The closer they are to the crashing, the stronger the shadow.

This idea came into focus the other day, when I was looking for a computer cord. I never found the cord, but I came across this picture.

I completely crumbled. This picture was taken about two months before Dave died, at mother/son dance. All I can see in this picture is Spencer's look. I can almost hold the innocence in this picture. Little did either of us know that our lives of comfort and safety were soon to be challenged.

Every. Single. Time. I get a little "memories" picture when I open up Facebook,  the first question I have is, "will this be a before picture or an after picture."  There are few pictures that stand alone with just the value of the picture. It's so frustrating to not be able to adore a picture or experience the memory of the picture, without that shadow. These following are all pictures that would normally elicit a sweet memory feeling or the simple capturing of an age or event. They do that, yet each one, also, has a film of sorrow on it for now.
                                                                Sweet Leah!
                                          A daddy and his baby, getting to know each other.
                                           Leah catching her second fish at the Lone Duck.
                                                            Spencer, the little boy.
                                              Meeting Macie for the very first time, ever.
                                                   Charlie's first day in the Aldridge family.

They are all just normal pictures.  Some with Dave in them and some without Dave, but all having that shadow.

If there are any pictures or stories that I can not classify into before and after, they are a sort of gift.  They get to stand all by themselves, holding only their own meaning and memory.

Pictures taken after December 21, 2012 have the same shade thrown on them. They can still have joy and laughter and new life, but many of them have a, "Dave is missing this," proponent . . .especially, as it pertains to the kids doing something new or displaying the personality of the kids. Dave didn't ever really get to see Leah as she has come out of her shell. She was always funny, but he never got to experience her humor as it keeps developing.  He never saw Spencer swim on swim team or play goalie in soccer or do a million different things. He never got to really get to know Macie at all and to see how far she has come, physically and emotionally.
                                          Was Spencer really this little, after Dave died?
                                                    Leah's third fish she ever caught.
                                                               Unlikely (nearly) twins.
                                                          Leah loving her new dad.
       Practicing for their first ballet recital, shortly after Dave died.  They looked so cute, but most               everything about that performance was empty without being able to share it with Dave.
                             I still can't figure out why anyone would WANT to play goalie?????
                                                                     Leah, the comedian!
                                                             Macie riding the waves!

Will this ever change?  Will I ever be able to look at the pictures surrounding December 21, 2012 without a film of loss over them?  Will their value ever be restored to the simple value of the memory being captured? I have no idea?  I hope the layer of grief over them breaks down at some point, or that the film will have more of a sweet hue, rather than a sticky film of sorrow.

I feel like I need to add a dash of cheer, to this rather somber post.  Perhaps a quote from the Bible that says, "Joy comes in the morning," but I'm just frustrated by this haunting.  One of my more comforting verses lately that is not one that is found inside many frames or the front of Hallmark cards, is an easy one to memorize.  "Jesus wept." He wept, because his friend died. Jesus knows the sting of death. Fortunately, he also knows the victory over it. Maybe that is his promise that death's shadow will fade . . . someday.

1 comment:

Michelle Beckmann said...

Oh, Holly. I was just thinking about this today. We are just four days away from the three-year anniversary of Rob's death, and stumbled across pictures from homecoming parade that same year...the innocent and happy faces of our girls, not knowing in four days their lives...our lives would be turned upside down. Thank you for your message of hope at the end. Love you, sister. ~Michelle