time doesn’t heal everything

Ryder started asking to take swim lessons this winter. Wanting to take advantage of his willingness and desire to learn, I signed him up at the only place offering them during the crazy cold months – our local YMCA.

The Y used to be my oasis when Kate and Jackson were young. As a stay-at-home mom, the days can be pretty long with two little ones, especially during our harsh winters. The kids could run and play while momma worked out and regained her sanity.

I haven’t frequented the Y since Jackson moved to Heaven. I ended our membership abruptly after, and never looked back. I was gently reminded why I made that decision shortly after Ryder’s first swim lesson.

As a reward for doing well in class, I told Ryder we could swim in the pool together afterwards. We practiced what Ryder learned, splashed water at each other, and giggled as he zoomed down the slippery slide. While we took a short snack break, I ran into an old acquaintance I knew from years before at the Y. I introduced her to Ryder, and she instantly broke into conversation with him.

“Did you have fun in swim class? You know I used to teach your sister,” she said. Ryder just looked at her and smiled.

“How’s your big brother doing,” she continued.

I stopped in my tracks, feeling sucker punched right in the gut. After five years, I wasn’t expecting that. There was an awkward silence. I tried to utter a response for Ryder after catching my breath. Hesitantly, I asked, “Do you mean Kate?”

She looked confused, and then I shared that Jackson moved to Heaven almost five years ago. After an apology of sorts, I ushered Ryder back to the pool, in a little state of shock and unsure of what just happened.

Five years ago, an encounter like this would have brought me to my knees. But as I continue to wade through this river of grief, my footing is grounded firmer in the muck and mud. I’m more sound in my beliefs and trusting in God’s plan which is far greater than mine.

It’s hard to comprehend that it’s been five years already. How has the time moved so quickly? So many days I feel like it happened yesterday, as my mind flashes back to the day he left us or the weeks and years after when my heart felt like it had been torn out of my body – the unimaginable pain and grief so fresh and heavy.

Today, on Jackson’s Angel Day, I will take some time to myself and meditate. I could probably distract myself enough with Jackson’s Jam stuff or taking care of the kiddos, but I don’t think that’s what I’m meant to do. I think it’s healthy to take time and reflect on what happened five years ago, how we’ve succumbed to the pain and grief, and how we’ve changed and grown since losing Jackson.

There will be tears, but I will be prayerful and grateful to God for the amazing two years I had with my son. I will praise God for His grace on my difficult days, and rejoice in the hope I have knowing I will see Jackson again one day.

While my feet still stumble at times, and moments like what happened at the Y shake me for a bit, I’m proud of myself. I didn’t break. Some people say “time heals everything.” While, yes, the sting subsides; the pain remains. It gets easier to bear, and I’m stronger these days but the hurt and heartache never disappear.

Some years, some days, some holidays are harder. There’s no rhyme or reason to the grief. I just follow my heart and let the pain and tears come when needed. The difference between today and almost five years ago is how I handle it. I don’t wallow in my pain. I no longer let the pain lead me or guide me through my life. I no longer let the sadness overtake me to the point of not being able to function.

Instead, these days, I let the pain come. I allow my body to feel the hurt and release the tears. Those tears aren’t a sign of weakness. Those tears signify a deep, everlasting love. For where there is love, there is great pain. And I will endure the pain because I treasure the love. 

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19