Without Hayden. The last "I Love You."
Most of us never know the day someone we love will die. We never had a clue it would be that day.
The day Hade died took us by complete surprise. She had been over to the house the night before visiting with us while Adam was at a meeting. As she left, we hugged and said with every bit of truth in our hearts "See you tomorrow, and maybe do lunch? I love you." "I love you too Ma and see you tomorrow Pops." Ohhh, the pain, looking back, knowing those were that last words our girl would speak to us on God's planet. They come with regret too. Wishing I would have hugged her longer, and harder and made her curl up on the couch with me one last time. You just never know.
God was so kind as to give us those words. Many people don't get to say "I love you" before death enters the picture.
The next morning Hayden died, pretty much at 11:07 am on 11/07. Kinda weird, kinda cool.
After Hade died, our entire family was thrown into GODO mode. You know, Go and Do. GO make plans and DO a lot of stuff.
It's honestly a huge blessing to have so much to think about and accomplish after someone dies, no time to sit and cry the entire day away. That will come later. But for today there were people to call, pick a funeral date, find a venue, pick out music, find a speaker, organize food, print the program, find lodging for people, and buy some black funeral clothes to wear.
Through all this planning, going, and doing, I felt detached. Like I was floating around. I was making decisions and getting things done, but it was like I was doing everything from the middle of a river, fighting the current, cold, and numb.
Somewhere between ordering programs, picking out music and bawling my eyes out, someone told me to go to the store a buy an outfit. What? I couldn't process the request. It felt so uncomfortable and wrong, like buying a prom dress or something special for New Year's Eve. It just didn't seem right. I'm mean what do you wear to your kids' funeral? Did I even care? Just get me something black, the blackest black. On second thought, there isn't anything black enough on the planet. I really felt like wearing a burlap sack with ashes heaped on my head. Something I could pull, rip, and tear apart with great force. Something that would be so rough on my skin that perhaps it could help ease the pain in my heart.
I ended up with black shoes, black pants, black sweater, and a black and white striped shirt.
Now every time I see those items hanging in my closet, I am reminded of Hades funeral day. I call them the "funeral clothes" and they are hanging in a separate part of my closet like they are the "untouchable" clothes now. They are my mourning clothes, almost sacred. But why? Most of my mourning has occurred way after Hade's funeral, far from the day I put on those clothes. I've cried more over my darling girl in my pj's or yoga pants than the stupid black and white striped shirt, eerily hanging in the closet. Yet, I hated even getting a glimpse of those clothes.
I asked myself why I was making those clothes like a sacred shrine. What was the big, ominous deal about them? Oddly, I have very few memories attached to that day and almost none to those clothes. There are no pictures of me hugging people kind enough to attend the memorial, no video of me holding a plastic plate filled with hor's d' oeuvres I couldn't eat.
I began to ask myself if it would it be possible that the black and white striped shirt could be one memory from Hayden's funeral day, but have other memories attached to it as well? Was that taboo? Was that disrespectful of Hade? What do people do with their old funeral clothes? Is that what fills the thrift stores?
I reached up and gently took the shirt down and rubbed my hand over it. I felt a couple of teardrops fall on the fabric as I eased the shirt off the hanger, and put the black and white striped shirt on. Nothing happened. I added the black sweater and pants and wore them out of the house to a music concert. There, it was done. Now the funeral clothes were just clothes that I wore to Hade's funeral day and eventually to a music concert, to church and out to lunch.
My cherished memories are in my heart, and my mind and I can dwell on them any time I choose. They aren't attached to a thing, definitely not a black and white striped shirt I wore to my daughter's funeral. I have hung that shirt back in my closet many times now, and when I see it hanging there, sometimes I think nothing, sometimes Hayden and sometimes a funeral. And that's OK.
There was freedom when I reached for that shirt and took it off from the hanger; I removed the power from the shirt. Maybe that's silly to you, or you don't get it, but It means a lot to me. Power doesn't belong to a thing, but to God. I won't give power, purpose, or even painful memories to anything or anyone, but the Jesus that deserves them. He carried me through Hade’s death and carries me still. He is my power, He is my purpose, and He alone knows my pain.
So, do you have some funeral clothes in your life? Like my stupid striped shirt. Maybe something you are giving your power to when you see it or think about it? It can be a person, a relationship, a career or even expectations. Don't give it that right. I encourage you to take it off the hanger and toss it in the trash, put it in a drawer, give it away or wear it out to lunch and walk in freedom. Be free.
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.