Okay, he's not a baby anymore. He's two, and he has been trying to do this for weeks, each time eventually giving up and coming to me for help. But tonight, he did it...and promptly unbuttoned and rebuttoned them three more times to show off his new-found skill.
It was a Moment, one for the memory books, and another reminder, on January 1 no less, that time really does march on. As much as I might like to freeze this moment in time, my baby boy is growing up, less and less a baby every day. This next year will hold great change and growth for him....and, I trust, for me.
Leaving them behind.
That's not true. It feels true, I'll grant you that, because we often use those words to talk about leaving a bad situation in the past, and not dwelling on it anymore. "Learn from it and move on." We need to "find closure." Move on. But who wants to say that about their child, or their spouse, or their parent, or friend?
I actually hate the phrase for all those reasons. Instead of "moving on," I prefer to think about what it means to move forward, but like a lot of things that involve definitions, sometimes you have to start with what something isn't.
Moving forward does not mean you stop grieving or missing.
Moving forward does not mean you love less.
Moving forward does not mean letting go.
Moving forward does not mean ignoring how much the person meant to you or
how big a hole they left behind.
The first part of your journey? That was all about learning how to survive. Figuring out how to breathe again...and again...and again. How to take care of your basic needs when you want to curl up and hide. How to go out in public and be socially appropriate with others in the grocery store without breaking down every five minutes like you do at home. Surviving.
Moving forward is also about learning. But instead of learning survival skills, it is all about learning how to live in a world that kept turning when yours stopped.
It means believing that life will not always be like this,
that you will not always hurt in this way,
that your future still holds the promise of love and laughter.
Moving forward means learning to experience joy again.
The first time you feel it bubbling out, you stop it,
swallowing back the smile and the laughter because it feels so alien,
so much a betrayal of the one you are missing.
But the second time, it feels a little more natural.
And then you realize you can be joyful without feeling guilty.
Moving forward means learning to embrace life,
little by little, at whatever pace you can manage.
There are no rules for that pace, so don't rush it, but don't be afraid of it either.
It might mean something small, like going someplace new on your own.
Or it could be something bigger, like learning a new skill, falling in love,
or having a new baby.
Something you would have loved to share with the one you lost,
and now you can't share it with them...but you're doing okay anyhow.
Moving forward means learning to trust again.
It means learning to trust family and friends who may have inadvertently hurt you
by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time,
but you know their heart is good.
It means learning to trust yourself again -
your instincts, your judgment, your intentions,
all of which may have been called into question when your loved one died,
even though you did all you could, and all that was necessary.
Most of all, it means learning to trust God again,
finding out that even though your circumstances were awful,
He is still good,
still worthy of being clung to,
still worthy of worship.
It means believing in who Jesus is and the eternity He offers so strongly that even though His way is confusing and painful, you know that you're not going anywhere. And you start to trust, finally, that He isn't going anywhere either.
That's what moving forward is. It's something I learned about in 2009 and 2010 after our first three losses of babies during pregnancy. I'm learning it all over again in 2015 as I grapple with the woulds, coulds, and shoulds of our losses of 2014.
Like my son with his buttons, I am fumbling a bit, but growing, and moving forward into 2015, clinging to Jesus for all He's worth. And He is worth it all.
Who's with me?