It all started with a new box of toothpaste, or at least, what I thought was a new box of toothpaste. Well, no, now that I think about it, this all started with me cleaning out my cabinets. Such a mundane but routine task I had neglected for quite a well because, honestly, I don’t have a lot of food anymore. I rarely shop like I used to and never ever do I buy in bulk as I so often did. Why should I when it is just Haleigh Raye and me and we are not huge consumers…of anything it seems..except maybe data on our phones.
So when I recently cleaned out shelves around my house I realized the expiration dates. January 2013. April 2013. December 2012. July 2012. Yes, some even went back to May 2012. It was at that moment I became conscious of the fact that I have to be the most sentimental person alive. Or at least that I have ever come into contact with and I cried at that. I cried and cried. Not because I felt like I was wasting perfectly good food when other people were in need of it, that was a small percentage of it too, but I knew that when I shopped for those items I had shopped with Noah in mind. And, sentimental me struck again, when I thought, he probably even ate out of some of this. Oh good grief. I had no reasoning. I wanted to save it all. Even the toothpaste, which I had found fallen behind other items, had expired in January 2012.
And then I think I started just a sad, downward spiral of my emotions and hit every single stage of grief in just a few days worth of time. Is this a normal part of grief? Or am I at the crazy stage? Or am I just clinging on to whatever memories, thoughts of Noah I can remember, or to a life that involved him in my everyday schedule.
Add to all these upheaval of emotions that I had to help Haleigh Raye , once again, deal with what she experienced on July 4th. One morning, there was a horrible wreck on the side of the road. With it being on our way to school we feared it might be someone we knew. As Haleigh Raye looked for familiar faces or cars she saw someone being worked on. Immediately she had tears in her eyes as she recalled seeing her own brother being worked on at the dock July 4th. Her next words were, “I hate what that family is getting ready to go through” and I knew she meant it. She hated it and her heart went out to them and it affected her throughout the rest of her day. Then a few days later she was setting in a service and someone gave their own testimony about dates that had affected them. Unaware that Haleigh Raye was among the crowd, July 4th was addressed and how the impact of that day left a rippling effect. It ended up being a very inspiring and encouraging talk but just not one Haleigh Raye could set through nor would I ever expect her to.
And there I was with all these feelings. Angry at what took Noah away and it never being addressed with me. Sad that Haleigh Raye had all those last visions of her brother. Depressed that he was never coming back to everything that he left behind, food, toothpaste, toys and all.
So I did what I had wanted to for a long time. I wrote. I wrote and I wrote the longest sentences to what I feel was part of the reason Noah isn’t here anymore and then I condensed it. It felt like I threw it out to the wind and I have no idea if anyone caught it or not. I would like to think so but...I may never know.
Of course the week went on and onward we went. Haleigh Raye and me both bounced back to our normal (at least the new normal anyway) selves and routines carried on because life, as we have all learned, does go on. Luckily we both try to stay pretty busy with our lives so that we don’t allow ourselves to get stuck in one phase of grief or the other. The friends that have surrounded us are nothing short of uplifting and confidence builders. The family we have is unwavering and always there. And then there is our faith. Our faith has been shaken to its very core and we have questioned so many things we never even gave a second thought to because it wasn’t put to the test in such a deep, challenging way...until now.
A few weeks ago Haleigh Raye sang with the youth choir and, of course, I watched all the youth but especially her as she sang with joy and happiness and I knew she truly believed what she was singing. I see her live it out every single day. The words to the song have came back to me over and over and over and over these past few weeks as we have faced these scenarios. What meaning these words have now.
You give and take awayYou give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
We have a choice how we respond. Among a variety of responses, we can respond in denial (which I’ve been known to do), we can respond in sadness (which I’ve definitely done) and/or we can respond in anger (got the t-shirt on that one.)
But it is when we get stuck in those negative stages is what sets us back. And so just like the song says, "my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be YOUR name. That is a choice we make. That is a choice we have. That is the free will we are given.
(Click on link to be taken to video.)