Everyday Is Memorial Day To The Grieving
In two more days, Dad will be in heaven for exactly two years. Memorial Day was the last weekend he was alive. Like you might expect, this weekend brings up some of the most difficult emotions for me. While everyone is headed to the lake and to BBQs, the constant ache of loss fills my stomach more than hotdogs and brew. God knows I’ve tried to fill up with both in order to kill the agony in my heart. The problem is it isn’t the time of year, or the thrill of the first kickoff to summer; it’s because everyday is Memorial Day to the grieving.
Dad loved this holiday in particular. As a military member himself, the older he became, the more proud he became of his time in the Army. If he saw anyone in uniform, he’d stop and shake their hand and thank them for their service. He bought every small flag from American Legion veterans and people gave after his death to his favorite charities, The Wounded Warrior Project and The American Red Cross.
I’ve heard all the quotes about grief. “God is in control.” “Time heals all wounds.” These are really great ideals. I even try to trick myself into actually believing them when I’m feeling down. It still doesn’t bring Dad back. Some days, it isn’t enough to even get me out of bed.
Oh, I function. Most of the time, I function at a frenetic pace. I work a full time job, write on the side, raise kids, love a husband and cuddle with a french bulldog as much as I can. It’s a full, beautiful life and I am honored to be living it. Most of the time, I believe I’m living it well.
One of the things about grief is the black mark it leaves all around you. People struggle with knowing how to respond and how to address the situation with you. Either they walk away completely or their approach to you is tempered. They don’t want to hear you cry or become nervous about whether or not you will be emotional. And after two years of living this way, I get it.
I get it because it use to be me. Tragedy would strike someone I loved and I wouldn’t have the words or the emotions to respond well. Sometimes responding at all is the only response required. My friend and fellow griever, Sarah, wrote this beautiful post about the disintegration of friendships and relationships following a tragedy. All of it, is just perfectly said.
I’ve had some really amazing people come alongside me and I’ve some “friends” walk away. I’m not longer sad about the ones who left. I wasn’t always strong enough to stay. And all of that is okay.
Days and even weeks can go by without incident. The loss covers me like a shroud, but I don’t cry or dwell on the past. Then there are days like today. All of the necessary scenes were set and I broke.
The weather was beautiful, just as it was two Memorial Day weekends ago. The kids were splashing in the pool, running and laughing, just as before. Husband was at the fire station, as he was in 2014.
Then Mom showed up with the flag.
The one we draped over Dad’s casket two years ago. Clasped into a glass box and perfectly together as it had been after it was ceremoniously folded and handed to my mother almost 730 days ago. Seeing it way alright, the pang of guilt was there.
But touching it was my undoing. I lost it. Sobs came and came and came. I let them. Because on the days when the tears come, all you can do is release them. You allow them to come and accept that today will not be the last time they appear.
Yes, perhaps they will not always come on every Memorial Day from here on out, but I know they will come. They are supposed to come. I’ve lost something I never thought I would have to live without. Now I have. I’m different, changed and I am supposed to be.
Life does that to you. When it comes and then goes and takes what it will, you are not the same afterwards. I can laugh at the good memories, and give myself enough grace to accept the bad ones. It’s the way it is.
There have been lots of good times and many laughs in the last two years and I am grateful for Every. Single. One of those moments. The good and the tough have combined into who God has designed me to be and while I do not understand His ways, I trust him. I trust Him because He is faithful. He’s also been there every breath-the good and the impossible.
I love that society has set aside times to celebrate certain events. Holidays and long weekends are not only times to stop and breath, but they are set spaces to remember. Perhaps the world does need a yearly reminder to stop and remember. Just like we need a required day every year to give thanks.
But I don’t need a set aside day to remember, because everyday is Memorial Day to the grieving.
If you are missing someone today, I’m grieving beside you. If you have served our country, I salute you. And if you love someone, anyone, grab them and love them well today.