December is upon us and we are already at the point of one year anniversaries. I’m not sure how I feel about that–I suppose it depends on the day. I do feel a sense of relief in a lot of ways. Several people have asked me about Christmas and have implied that it will be hard. Yes, I am sure there will be some hard moments, but I can’t anticipate when or where those will be. However, holidays are days that happen once a year; traditions that we celebrate on a yearly basis. I have five buckets of memories of those holidays with Reece. There are things that we did as a family every day, which means I miss every day. Each day is challenging, so I guess the missing Reece part doesn’t change because of the holiday. Last year was particularly heavy, so comparatively speaking I know that he will not be suffering any longer. Last year, in my opinion, was much heavier knowing that he would be facing so much. Perhaps tomorrow, my opinion on that will change. Grief is unpredictable that way.
I am feeling a little sad that 2012 is leaving us because it is the last year that Reece was here on earth and it is the birth year of Scarlett. Yet the weight of the year needs to leave us. I’m relieved that I don’t have to relive this day. Or yesterday or the day before. Firsts seem to be a hard sort of thing, yet I’m not convinced seconds, thirds, or fourths will be any better. So time passes and we pass with it.
Writing the book proves to be an interesting task; it’s not even close to a book yet–more like a general outline and a few paragraphs. It is so very different to write about past events versus current life happenings. And it is difficult, as I anticipated, to recall the things that happened. I am realizing that I will need to be tapping into different writing exercises to come to some sort of groove with it. I am also accepting that it may never feel like I am in a groove at all. It may be a labor of love that is painful the whole way through. I hope I can present something that honors Reece. I love writing his name, so that is one easy part! Reece. Reece. Reece.
I continue to look to others who have walked this path before for comfort or some sort of general understanding. While I’m not comforted that someone else is suffering or has suffered, I am grateful that there are others that we can be in community with, even though the common ground isn’t one that anybody would choose. I have looked at a few stories of well-known people who walked through life with at least one child who passed away. It was a purposeful decision for us to have “It is Well with My Soul” played at Reece’s memorial service. I knew the man who wrote the song–Horatio Spafford–had suffered the loss of multiple children in his life. A couple of days ago, I decided to re-read a general description of his life and search for more info on him. There are many websites that give accounts of his life. He ended up losing six children of the eight that he and his wife had. He lost a four-year-old son to scarlet fever. Two years later, his wife, Anna, and four young daughters were on a large vessel to Europe for a family vacation (Horatio would come a few days later to join them, but was delayed by business) when their ship was struck by another. The following is an excerpt from biblestudycharts.com:
“On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters
Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, ‘You were spared for a purpose.’ And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, ‘It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.'”
While he was sailing to Europe to join his grief-stricken wife and accompany her back to the US, Horatio penned the song “It is Well with My Soul”; the voyage he made required he pass over the site where his four daughters perished at sea.
The Spaffords had three children after this tragedy and lost yet another four-year-old son to scarlet fever. On top of this, their church considered these deaths a divine punishment from God.
After reading the accounts in detail, all I could do was weep for them and weep for the parents all over the world who are chosen to live out life here without a child–or multiple children. All I could think about was what incredible sorrow the Spaffords must have experienced in their lifetime and yet this beloved hymn has brought hope and peace to so many people over the last 140 years. I had never read the part about Anna hearing she was “spared with a purpose”, but that also brought me much encouragement for my own life. God brings us through circumstances purposefully, not in vain. I don’t know; I guess as I look at where my life is at, I need that encouragement. I need to know that kids aren’t swept away with parents left behind for no good reason. I think of Anna and how painful the rest of her life probably felt, knowing that she was spared–the guilt and anguish that would have followed and the need for relief that can’t be found by the things of this world. When I read their family’s story and think of our own life as a family, I just need to know it’s not in vain.