A couple of weekends ago Phillip and I went on a hike at a nearby nature preserve. At various points along the trail one of us would point out to the other the season’s newest blooms. Our favorites were the redbud trees. They have such delicate, gentle pink blossoms. The redbud is such a hopeful tree. She shows her colors early each spring, quietly awakening us from the dark of winter and inviting us into the new light of spring.
I haven’t always felt that way about the redbud tree – or spring for that matter. It’s been twenty-two years since the darkest spring of our lives. Our Jaclyn Hope came and left in such a hurry that all we were left with for a while were our empty arms, broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams. Our emotions and memories have a way of making connections that are not easily untangled. Because all that was blooming that early in the spring were redbud trees and daffodils, for the next several springs those optimistic trees and flowers provoked only grief and sadness and hopelessness for me. It felt as if each new redbud was exposing the broken, scarred places in my heart that I could keep more easily hidden in the dark of winter.
I’m certain the healing didn’t happen all at once, but I have a vivid recollection of the first spring in which I noticed the redbud trees and responded with hope instead of heartache. It was seven years later. Seven years. I can’t express to you how even today that fills me with such sadness. If I’m in what I call an “ugly” place – where I forget to remember I really do love myself – I beat myself up for “taking so long to heal.” Grief does that to people. When I remember how lavishly I am loved by my Creator, I can show a bit more grace to myself and allow myself to experience healing, hope and continued heartache during the springtimes and winters of my life. (Sometimes those are all on the same day!)
God is good all the time. I’m so grateful there’s not an expiration date on his provision. He has continued to provide family and friends who surround me with love, who honor the memory of our beloved Jaclyn Hope, and who patiently allow me to continue telling this part of my story – our story.
And so I simply say thank you – again and again – for the lessons of life, for the beauty and the heartache, for the Hope of new seasons ahead, for the gift of grace, and for the privilege of walking through it all with my Phillip by my side.
Thank you for listening (again),