I had a real problem with New Years the year that Arlynne died. It had been 5 months. Not even half a year. I didn’t want 2012 to start. It made 2011 seem so far away. It made Arlynne feel so far away. Somehow telling someone that my daughter died last year made it that much longer ago. And I didn’t want the time to pass.
I guess time passing can seem like I am leaving Arlynne behind. Like she is part of a life that is gone. In a way, she is. On Christmas Day this year a very good friend of mine came over and, as we shared a cup of tea, she told me about a novel she had read recently. I haven’t read it yet but I plan on it. She said that when she read it that she thought about me. One of the characters in the book is a mom whose daughter had died. This character was struggling with thoughts that are very true for many grieving parents. Her hopes for her daughter’s future. The dreams of what her child would be doing now.
I understand this very well. I have been guilty of this in the past myself. The grief when Arlynne’s friends all graduated from high school without her. The pain of seeing her best friend get married when Arlynne never will. The thought of the grandchildren I won’t have because she is gone. The assumptions I had made about Arlynne’s life. My vision for her future.
This is a pretty easy trap to fall into. The game of “what if”. I remember starting this game long before Arlynne died. It started with my first miscarriage. Few moms go through a pregnancy without the start, the seed, of a dream for her unborn child. A plan for his or her future. We carry this hope inside of us, under our hearts. Maybe that is why miscarriage is so hard on the mom. Yes, some dads will begin dreaming too but I think there is an added attachment between a mom and her unborn baby. That is why it might be so hard for others to sympathize with a woman who is grieving for someone that no one ever met. She is grieving a dream.
I have been there. Twice. Twice I carried a child I never got to hold. Someone I alone was attached to. Who I carried under my heart. A child I had started dreaming about but never realized a day with. A hope that died.
Of course, Arlynne is not like that. I don’t mourn her alone. She touched many people. And she did have many days on this earth. Just not as many as I thought she would have. She didn’t live all the dreams I had for her.
But she lived all that God had planned for her. She fulfilled His purpose. While my dreams for her might not have been over, His plans for her on this earth were.
When I stay rooted in the belief of what I think should have happened I can become embittered. And hard. And unforgiving. I can wallow. I can stay stuck. Stuck in my own plans.
Giving up the dreams can feel like I am forgetting her. And that is one of my biggest fears. One of my most unrealistic ones. But a fear all the same.
Soon we will start a new year. We will leave 2014 with all its joys and sorrows. With all its expectations and disappointments. And we will start a new year. A new chapter. 2015. We will mark our fourth year since Arlynne went to Heaven. We will mourn a little. That’s okay. But I will try to remember that those milestones for Arlynne that I may be tempted to mourn were never in God’s plan from the start. So instead I will celebrate those we had. The joys we experienced through her.
And I will keep my eyes fixed on the future. When I will see my Arlynne again.