I think the bottom line is there are days that remind us more of our losses than other days, but for whatever reason, there is still a part of me that wants to pretend that one of these years it will all feel "normal" and be "normal."
Then at some point I usually recognize that those sort of off kilter feelings come from somewhere, and they have to be acknowledged to move on.
Clue number one we were off kilter:
I slept in and woke up to the sound of Joie very loudly expressing her opinion about how unfair it was that she had to load the dishwasher.
Clue number two we were off kilter:
When I tried to talk to Joie, she didn't want to talk. She didn't want to live here. She didn't want to be in "this family." Not today. Not ever... Or at least for the next ten minutes when she calmed down wanted to talk. I love that girl. She's amazing. She's an amazing girl with a huge, huge loss that seems closer some days than others.
Clue number three we were off kilter:
I couldn't shake my own case of the blahs after Joie had her moment. Everything bugged me...the smell of the paint Tim was using...the fact that my plans for the day were changing on me...and the very, very messy office downstairs.
Clue number four things were off kilter:
I was cleaning the very messy office. I haven't wanted to touch that room for weeks, and for some reason it had to be cleaned today. It's the room that always reminds me most of Nick, Ruth and Audrey.
...Pictures, documents, papers...all the remains of a life that was theirs, and Joie's, but is no more. I needed to clean that room today.
And while cleaning, I came across an old family picture taken at my brother's wedding. Nate was a baby, and oh those blonde curls! Then as I was about to put the picture in a pile, Ruth's smiling face jumped out at me from the back row. She was single then. The picture must have been taken not long before she met Nick. In that moment I could hear her voice and her laugh, and wanted more than anything to feel one of her hugs.
Instead I held the picture a little longer, and the tears that had been denied all day (because it was a "normal" day) finally came.
Then whatever it was that had been bugging me all day was gone, and I was back on kilter. (Can you be on kilter? Is that a phrase also, or just off?).
And a huge clue we were on kilter: The whole family went to see Kung Fu Panda 2 (and I think everyone else in Utah had the same idea on this cold, wet Memorial Day).
I guess my main point is: As much as I wanted this weekend to be about the real heros of our world who give their lives for our freedom, we can't get through this day without also feeling the loss of others we miss.
The first day we went to the graves, Gabby mentioned she didn't know where her mom was, and "I don't remember her very well. I wish I could remember her more," she said... Which lead to a conversation about what we could do to remember her mom, and she loved the idea of sending balloons to heaven.
So today after the movie:
Oops...how did they get up there? No worries...
Megan to the rescue (armed with a pair of salad tongs).
Ready to launch...
We hope all the balloon messages made it to heaven (and one to India, for Gabby's brother). Personally, I think all messages from the heart make it to where they need to be, and guaranteed there was a lot of love floating in the air above our house this afternoon.
But the true pay off moment that told me we really weren't that off kilter after all...
The moment when you know the teaching paid off, and the message sank in...
I had to run to the store late tonight (because you can't start Tuesday morning without milk). Before I left I told Gabby to get ready for bed and I'd come in and pray with her when I got home.
When I came back she was in her bed writing.
"What are you writing?" I asked.
"A letter to Joe."
Joe is my brother. This guy:
Joe is currently serving in Afghanistan in a "dustoff" unit (a.k.a. flight medic).
Gabby had written a very sweet (1 1/2 page) letter to her Uncle Joe in Afghanistan. What a heart this girl has!
At the end of the day, it seemed that maybe things weren't so off kilter after all.
(I love, love, love it when they really get it. Don't ever think they're not listening. They hear everything!)
So for Joe, and all the others who do what he does every day, thank you!
Our hearts are with you, Joe (and a letter from your newest niece will be in the mail shortly).
More pictures of Joe:
God speed to all our troops!