I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. But in some ways it’s like my brain knows it. A few weeks back an Amber Alert went off and the piercing sound almost crippled me. It was like all the suppressed memories from that week flooded to the surface in a moment. I felt like I was reliving those 3 days, almost for the first time. When an extreme tragedy takes place it feels like your life is now divided into two chapters, like a before and after- nothing will ever quite be the same. You are numb for so long initially, it’s almost like a protection because you could never handle it all right away- it would take you out. I know my mind read those reports, I saw the autopsy and attended the memorial service but it was mostly done on autopilot. God gifted us with a clarity in the moments it was necessary to make decisions and I believe the Holy Spirit carried us through the rest. The honest truth is when we really stop and think about all we walked through, it leaves us breathless. It is a deep ache and there is a righteous anger. It is incredibly hard to swallow on every level and I think it always will be, to some degree. There are so many things nobody knows, they don’t need to know. But we lived this, and it’s multifaceted and layered. We are slowly opening up to feel it. To process and own the reality.
A lot of this year felt like a blur. It was so public with articles and news constantly pumping out the latest updates and stories. It almost did feel like we were reading about someone else’s life sometimes, or maybe I was just wishing we were. We jumped headlong into our adoption process and that took every ounce of strength I had left. It was a new fight- ready or not. It felt like the nitty-gritty, how-legit-is-your-faith marathon on the heels of deep sorrow. But God was there, giving us pieces of hope to hold onto each week. You can know things in your head about life, grief, God. But it’s a whole different thing to practice what you preach-to live out what you say you believe. Did I really trust the Lord and believe He would equip me to walk forward into more hard? After such extreme grief there was a choice, to keep loving and give an obedient yes. No matter the cost. There was a deep, resounding yes in my spirit- against all odds- to give this all we had. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life really. When you love you always risk suffering, but healing is found there. In the sacrifice, in the laying your life down, you find abundant life.
On this year anniversary I initially felt disappointed that I am not where I hoped I would be- which is such a silly thing to say. I put expectations up and was surprised that I in fact feel worse after a year. But that’s because I am feeling. And I want to continue to feel and to love, to give my life away for what matters. I want to retrace this year and all I’ve learned about this dance of grief and hope. God has been so present and faithful.