The country of Japan was hit by a tsunami in 2011, the same year my family was hit by the loss of our 16 year old son, our firstborn. Child loss is its own tsunami of epic proportions. Japan is still recovering and rebuilding today. And my family and I are still recovering and rebuilding today, exactly 7 years later.
There are many parallels to Japan’s tsunami recovery and the recovery from child loss. An article from USA Today online from 2016 states, “It took more than two years just to haul away the debris and rebuild roads and other basic infrastructure here.” Yes. This. This is an accurate description of the early days of child loss. I remember nothing of the first year after Matt died. I don’t remember the holidays, birthdays, or any special memories during those first 12 months. The devastation of losing my son wreaked destruction on my health and my children’s health, too. Shock, however, is a gift, really, that allows you to survive. But after the shock wears off? That was year two for us. Indescribable pain. Hope that had accompanied the shock in year one faded significantly going into year two. The realization that my son really wasn’t coming back began to solidify in my brain. It was, and is, a horrendous acceptance.
The USA Today article mentioned that five years after the tsunami “about 53 million tons of debris” had been removed. And recovery? It had only just begun. Again, this parallels child loss. Years three to six for us were really just the beginning of recovery, in rebuilding, in figuring out what the landscape of our lives was going to look like. And this past year? It has been, for me, about reinvesting in life, in determining and defining what I want my life to look like. It is far, far from finished, this rebuilding.
So very much has changed in seven years. So many things I wish Matt was here to see, to share in. So many moments with his siblings that will never be realized. So many aborted memories because of his absence. So much recovery to be done yet.
The tsunami of child loss that hit our lives seven years ago left an indelible mark on our lives. There is no going back to the way things were. That life is gone. But what we will be hasn’t yet fully developed. We are, like Japan, still in the process of rebuilding. There is no forgetting the past, for it is a part of us. Though it has been severed, it remains; it is the dust with which God uses to fashion a new us, broken yet beautiful. We are a new vessel because of this loss. The scars we bear, bear us. They have become to me a testimony of God’s grace and mercy. They are my remembrance stone of Christ’s faithfulness to me, His overwhelming presence in the darkest of days. He is my life, my light, my salvation. I yet praise Him.
I live because He lives. Because He lives, Matt lives. I will not waste this grief because Jesus does not waste our grief. He bore our sins and our sorrows, and there is purpose in this pain, a good purpose that remains to be seen. Yet I will trust in Him and His word. This grief is “achieving for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (1 Cor. 4:17)
Today, on this 7 year anniversary of the death of my son, I still choose Jesus. Death cannot separate me from God’s love. It cannot take what remains: love. With Christ’s love, we have redeemed this day, July 29th. Indeed, you all have been the body of Christ for us this month as you have carried us in your prayers and in your gifts to Options for Women. I shouldn’t be amazed, and yet I am. I am grieving, and yet so grateful. Thank you. Thank you for extending grace and redemption to the hurting. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us…” (1 John 3:1)
My pick for Options for Women today is HUGGIES Snug & Dry Diapers, Size 6, 80 Count.
PHOTO FACT: This was our last family photo together, a year before Matt died. We didn’t know while posing for this picture that we had formed a heart shape. Love lives.
My blog with the information for July’s anniversary plan: https://crucifiedwithchristblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/like-a-broken-record/
Amazon baby registry for Options for Women: https://www.amazon.com/baby-reg/optionsforwomen-mankato-december-2018-mankato/QN3SX9PXDROY
(If ordering via Amazon, ship to address should fill in automatically.)
Link to support Options for Women Online: https://supportoptionsmankato.com/
Options for Women wish list: https://crucifiedwithchristblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/for-our-baby-store-wish-list.pdf