One orbit around the sun. Three hundred and six-five days. Thirty-one million, five hundred thirty-six thousand seconds.
A year actually goes by pretty quickly. But it can feel like a lifetime.
Still, in less than one year you can conceive and give birth, build a house, or walk across the continental United States. You can sail the world, write a novel, grow a business, build a friendship, or cement a habit.
Years come and go, and we mostly flow along with them. We mark out birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays with family and friends. Hopefully we remember to be present in the moments that pass. But we are human and often think about the next to-do, while we are trying to live in today.
We mark the milestones of each year with barely a glance in the rearview mirror, because there’s always next year.
But sometimes life comes to a screeching halt and all the next years are swallowed up and disappear. When it happens, we’re shocked. We wonder why we didn’t pay better attention. We question why we didn’t take more time soaking in the precious moments. In the end, we are left to regret all the time we so frivolously wasted.
We wish for time to do it over. Knowing full well, no one is ever given the opportunity to relive yesterday.
It’s a rotten thing to face the death of someone we love. And the sting of it is no less painful when we mark the year after. The pain still feels as raw and cutting as it did the day you got the call. It’s shocking because the good days have probably been more common recently. When the day arrives, it comes like a tidal wave.
But grief is like that. Sneaky and mean, it creeps up and grabs your heart when you are going about your every day business. You may think you recognize it’s ways, but you don’t. And just as sure as anything, it comes in and hits you hard in the chest when you least expect it.
One year ago, my beautiful, bossy, loving sister passed away. And a year is not long enough to stop me from again feeling the pain of her loss.
I keep thinking we should be given a timestamp when our loved one dies. It should count off the number of days until you’ll no longer feel the gnawing. But the reality is, there is never really an end to grief, though it does eventually grow a bit less sharp as time goes on.
That is until you mark another milestone… like first holidays, birthdays, and the one-year marker.
Understand, I’m a Christian, and so was my sister. So yes, I know I will see her again. The reality of promises like these are a comfort and hope:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
Revelation 20:11-12 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne.
But today, I miss her so much.
She was the one who got me. She and I shared secrets, private jokes, and a terrible past. I have been so blessed with amazing family and friends and I appreciate you all. But none of you are ever going to get me like she did.
The fact that I will see her again, does not stop me from missing her every single day.
Two days before she died, I heard the Lord whisper these words to me. “Praise me through the broken places.” I could not have fathomed what was coming just forty-eight hours later, but He knew. I held those words closely these last twelve months. They were a comfort then, and they are today.
Grief is not a place, it’s a journey. And on that journey, I will praise the Lord and cling to His promise to be near me when I’m broken. But today, I miss her. And today I grieve her loss.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.