Years ago, I never looked at the calendar with dislike - not even when my birthday came around. I looked forward to each new day, and new month, like a new challenge ahead. Now, that's all changed.
March has become quite the dreaded month, in fact you could say it is my absolute least favorite month of all year. On March 31st, it will be 2 years - 2 years since my brother, Ashley, died. Two years of heartache, loss, pain, grief and despair. Two years of watching my family fall apart, my parents age overnight, and for me a battle of fear, anxiety, and depression. March 31st is a day I don't want to face, and yet internally it counts down inside my heart.
Unexpected death rocks your world, it shatters everything you thought you knew - and requires you to pick it up and figure out how it all fits together again. When your kid brother, who is 29 yrs old, passes away you just don't know how to process that. This baby of the family, who you thought you would see again - talk to again - is gone…. it's just something too hard to comprehend. Grief is a process, you don't get over it overnight, or even in 2 years, or even 20 years - you learn how to live through it - not get over it.
For me, March has now become a month of regret. I wish I had called Ashley more, made a trip down to Florida to see him - hugged his neck a thousand more times. I look at the 30 days before his death and see all the missed opportunities to just let him know how much I loved him. I struggle hard to remember his laugh, his smile, his jesters and phrases. I think about all the things I put between us, reasons why we couldn't get together and things I thought were so important at the time - and now see how worthless it all was - compared to one more time to see him. I kick myself a million times for not picking up the phone and calling him more - all I have left is a text. Why wasn't he worth a phone call that day?
Oh, I could wade in the waters of regret until I drown. I could keep walking into the sea of sorrow until I'm completely under - but I can't. I can't live in the past of "What if's" and "Whys?" I can't go deep in the dark murkiness of "words not said" and "things not done". I can't stop living because my brother is gone. Because - my purpose here on earth is not finished, even though Ashely's is. Wow, that hurt to say that - brings tears to my eyes, but I know it is true. For some reason unknown to me, one I may never understand - my brother's time here on earth is over. His life began on May 14, 1982 and ended on March 31, 2012. Ashley lived 29 years, 10 months, and 18 days, a total of 10,915 days.
Only God knows why his days were shorter than mine, and though I wish they were 10 thousand more - there aren't. I can't change that, and I can't change what happened 30 days before he died, 30 hours, or 30 minutes. What I can change is the way I live however, the days I have left. Though this world is not my home, it is where I am now - and my purpose is not finished here. As I trusted God with my pain and sorrow those first moments of finding out, and those first hours, and days, I still must trust God with everyday. As hard as some days are to face, it is one more day God has given me with my family, and loved ones around. There is still a purpose for me here - and I must not waste that - especially now, seeing how precious time is.
March is still hard. I will admit it. I am not Superwoman or Super-saint. I struggle, I cry. Grief is tough. Loss is tough. I envy those who handle it better than me. I wish I could be stronger some days. I feel like I should apologize ahead of time, in case my demeanor isn't quite up to par. But I have learned that weakness is not shame - it's surrender to the ONE who is stronger. I am not sure I would be able to function at all if not for God and the way He has carried me through these last few years.
My family would appreciate your prayers - this month weights heavy on all our hearts, and prayer lifts up that cloud of pain.
Let me also say - that you don't upset someone when you mention their loss. Sometimes when you are in a tunnel of grief it feels like everyone around you has forgotten and moved on. So it's OK to mention the name of their loved one gone, it's OK to send them a card, it's OK to give them a call. Just grab their hand and say - I know this month is hard for you - and I'm praying for you. You don't have to act like you understand all they are going through - but just letting them know they are not ALONE - makes a HUGE difference. Be the hands and feet of Jesus - don't wait for someone else to be.
Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are;
help us to spend them as we should.
Psalm 90:12 TLB