Time is an interesting thing. At exactly this moment eight weeks ago, I was cleaning up lunch and getting Jane ready to take a nap. Robert put her down and she called out from her room “Toodles, love you!” as she did anytime we put her down to sleep. This normal exchange seems both like an eternity ago and like it was just yesterday.
It has been eight weeks since the call to 911. Eight weeks since my husband drove furiously home and we rode in the back of a trooper’s car to the hospital. Eight weeks since I held Jane’s hand in mine and asked if I could see her feet one last time. An eternity ago and not long at all.
Grief is not tame and it is unpredictable.
I remember a false allusion following Jane’s death of a return to normalcy. It was the idea that when the meals stopped coming, the mailbox no longer contained condolences and the flowers had all died, we would return to normal. Deep down I knew that wouldn’t be the case. The meals have stopped, the mailbox infrequently offers encouragement and the flowers died weeks ago. But Jane still isn’t here. Grief is not tame and it is unpredictable. I was used to a clear, uphill trajectory of healing. Any other sadness or disappointment I faced in my life has gradually gotten better, day by day. True grief ebbs and flows.
Our current days seem long, but Jane’s years were painfully short.
While it would be nice to say that we are developing a new normal, that’s untrue. We are in the middle of a pandemic. I’m 28 weeks pregnant and there seems to be no normal or new normal in sight. Yet, time keeps marching forward. The sun comes up every day and is sure to set every evening. Having small children, I am familiar with the phrase, “the days are long, but the years are short”. This phrase has taken on new meaning lately. Our current days seem long, but Jane’s years were painfully short.
I got a call this morning that Jane’s headstone was installed at her grave site. I never thought I would be a frequent grave visitor, but it felt important to me to leave flowers or something marking the place until the headstone arrived. My six year old, Leah, is always quick to say that only “Jane’s old body” is buried there. Jane is with Jesus and we are so thankful for that truth. We never want her grave to become some shrine or hopeless place of despair. I will never say, “I’m going to visit Jane.” Jane is not there. But today the whole family went to the cemetery. We went to see the headstone and to thank God for Jane’s life. We thanked God that He allowed us to be her family and we thanked Him that Jane is now in His presence.
I never thought I would have to design or pick out a headstone for my child. I experienced a range of emotions. I was pleased with how it turned out and grateful that it had been put in place. I was also grieved by the reality and felt the weight of finality. There was something else that stood out obviously. Time.
It was etched into granite right in front of my face. September 17, 2017-February 24, 2020. Two years, five months and one week. 890 days. The years were short, but they were full. Time continues and our life is forever altered. There are some things that will never change. Being Jane’s mother is one of the greatest privileges of my life. It was a privilege the day she was born, the day she died, every day in between and for as many days left as I have on this earth. We also know that God does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
While our life looks vastly different than it did just eight weeks ago, I’m thankful to know that it’s still in the hands of the Almighty.