Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Third of a Year

It's hard to believe that it's already been four months since James left us for a better place. The memories continue to be so vivid that it seems like only a few weeks ago.

Life has carried on in these past four months in many ways as if nothing ever happened. We took up our task again and in most ways function and live like a normal healthy family. But, there is not a day that goes by where we do not think about James. He continues to live on in our hearts and minds. There are days where he consumes my thoughts, and other days where I only spend a short time thinking about him or looking at his pictures. There are periods where I go without dwelling too much on the past, only to crash shortly after consumed with grief and desiring to hold my boy in my arms again. During this period often comes a guilt feeling also ... how can I go on as if nothing happened? I want to go on and be normal, but to go on and be normal feels like I am putting James behind me and I don't want to put James behind me. Remembering James comes with so many other feelings and emotions that it's seems impossible to "be normal" as long as these feelings are there. Often during these times my thoughts are mixed up and not always the most reasonable. But always, my mind knows I'm being unreasonable and I have to work myself through things again to bring myself back to a more clear-thinking, in-control feeling. During these times I wish I would just "be normal" and when I realize that I am feeling "almost normal" I feel bad for not missing him more .... and so it's a vicious cycle that I can't seem to win, but just have to work through each mood as it comes. Eventually I will come to accept a new "normal," a balance of these two extremes. (for what is normal? Is there a philospher in the house?)...
I often struggle to remind myself that my desires to have my boy back are extremely selfish. My memories are slanted as I tend to forget the tiresome work that came with caring for James. Last night I spent some time looking over his charts, reminding myself what a twenty-four hour period with James was like. At one point I was going to post a blog about this, but time never allowed for that and once James was in the hospital I forgot about it and never completed it. As I look at these charts I am amazed that I was able to function with the little bit of sleep I got each night between caring for James and Matthew, most nights the longest stretch of sleep was a 2-3 hour period between 2am-5am ... if I was lucky. But at the time I remember just doing it, not really thinking about what I was doing ... I suppose we learned from James, we just accepted and carried on. But it would be even more selfish if my thankfulness for James being gone is because we were relieved of the time consuming care it took to raise him. I would take it all back in a flash if it meant having my boy back, but the Lord decided to relieve us of this burden.

When I read these charts I am not just reminded of the time it took to care for James, it reminds me more of how unstable James was, how unhealthy he was ... how terminally ill he was. He seldom complained but I often wonder how ill he truly felt, how much he was truly enduring each day. And then I am thankful that he no longer has to go through all this, he has been completely relieved and it is so selfish of me to want to bring him back to that ... for I can dream all I want, but having James back means having everything about James back ... if it were possible that would be the most unfair thing I could ever do to him. James has what we all desire, he lives in a house free of pain and suffering, free of sin and in the care of our Heavenly Father ... what more can a person desire? I am so thankful for this comfort that we have and that I can process my mind each time again to remember this and to be thankful for all the Lord has done for James and for us.

We have received various gestures from people letting us know that they are still thinking of us, and by this we are encouraged as well. The picture above is a beautiful digital layout of what we received as a framed gift last week, and we thought we should share with our readers. It is a curious thing that when James was ill, while we received numerous cards, many of them home made, one card he enjoyed most was a home made one with a fuzzy Elmo pasted on the front, lovingly made by this same lady who gave us the layout. Below is a picture of James holding this card. Altho James had great desires to pull Elmo off the card each time he played with it, the card still remains in tack and continues to sit on the nighttable beside my bed as it brings back so many memories. Below is also a picture that my dad took of Rob and James, taken this past summer. This picture has extra special meaning because it was taken the last day that James went for an entire day without needing oxygen. When we got home that night we hooked him up again, and he never came off oxygen for long periods again after that, only short little breaks, that slowly got shorter until they no longer existed. If I thought digital cameras were great before, I know now how wonderful these are, for from them we have so many memories that would slowly fade away if we didn't have pictures to help us remember more clearly ... and because it is digital we can take so many more pictures then we ever did before. All the pictures in the world would never be enough, but they certainly help us to laugh and cry through the good and bad times.

Oh how I miss my boy, but oh how glad I am that he is resting peacefully.


Anonymous said...

and many prayers!!

Rich and Tracey Stam

Kevin & Amy said...

Thanks for your honesty, Steph. I know it is hard to be "on display" during such a difficult time, but it is really nice for all of us to know what to specifically pray for. Take care:)

HH said...

Oh Steph, your post did make me tear up. Of course you miss him, and of course you want him back, that's not selfish, it's human. But at the same time you know that where he is now is so glorious that, who would want him to come back to this life, so full of heartache, sickness and tears. No one. We should actually be jealous of him, shouldn't we?! May the memories of him never fade, the pictures of him will help with that. You will always miss him, but maybe the intensity of your grief will soften over time. May God's everlasting arms continue to surround you and your family as you continue on life's journey.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rob & Steph

I suppose "normal" is how God the potter molds each family individually. But how our hearts ache for your family when everyone goes back to their 'normal' life, and you have so many emotions to work through. We can only imagine how hard it would be to let go of the grief, if that seems to be the only tangible thing left to hang on to of your dear James. To let go means to take a step into the future without him.... but also one toward being reunited in God's heavenly home. Praying that God's love will fill the lonely ache in your heart, and the reassurance of it will help you to carry on.
With lots of love,
Al and Diane

Anonymous said...

HHi Steph

That is such a beautiful scrapbook page - we are always thinking of James, too, so we can just imagine how much you do. You are always in our prayers.
On the drive down to Florida, we passed through Atlanta, and noticed there are two little suburbs very close together, one called Marietta and the other Rebecca! Just a few miles apart! (There were no James and Matthews, though...) The kids and I imagined you driving down to Florida as a young girl and dreaming of one day naming your girls those names - hmmm, possible, or just coincidence??!!
Congratulations on Rob's acceptance to the college, too. From my experience living with a brother going to the college, I can tell you its hard, hard work, especially that first year, so we will pray for much strength for all of you! What a blessing, though, to be part of such work in our Lord's kingdom!

Deb Alkema

Anonymous said...

A beautiful set of photos in memory of a beautiful boy! Continuing to pray for you,
the Noots

Anonymous said...

We are praying for you as well.
Henry and Julia Meerveld

Steph said...

Sorry to disappoint you Deb, but we haven't been that far south in the States, so I guess your imagination was just running wild!! :) Pretty neat tho to have both of them so close together. We knew there was a town/city Marietta in Pennsylvania, but not Atlanta. Always kinda neat to see, eh. The girls love to see Rebecca Street when we go downtown here. Haven't found a Marietta Street nearby ... and for some reason James Steet doesn't have the same effect ... or maybe I just never pointed it out to them since it's such a common street here.

Anonymous said...

Still thinking and praing for you often!