I have been working on this for a while and should’ve published it a month ago but was overwhelmed with the holidays. I decided that I shouldn’t add unnecessary pressure to my life and should just post as I can. I know that God is calling me to share my story and I have a lot to say in His time!
Another new year has begun and although my head knows it’s 2018, most of the time my heart feels like it’s still 2016. In the early days of grieving the loss of Derek and trying to figure out how to continue my life without him, I was told over and over how hard the holidays would be. I expected his birthday, the anniversary date, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to be difficult and they were. I didn’t put much thought into the first New Year without him and it was one of the most difficult days for me. The thought of starting a new year without him broke my heart and it was one of my most emotional days. I felt like we were leaving Derek behind in 2016 and I didn’t want to start a new year without him. It has been over a year since that “first” and I can’t believe that 2017 is over. Last year feels like a blur to me. Our family walked blindly through through the year trusting God to help us figure out how to continue living with a huge hole in our hearts. We made it through the year and it’s hard to believe that it’s 2018.
At the end of each year, I reflect on the past and look forward to what is ahead. Reflecting on the past while walking the road of child loss can be very painful. We have so many wonderful memories of our “complete family”. Knowing that Derek will no longer be a a part of them overwhelms me with sadness. We have continued to make fun memories as a family but it will never be the same without him here. As 2017 ended, I started praying for guidance and direction for 2018. Gratitude is the area of my life that I feel God wants me to focus on this year. I made a decision to be intentional about thanking God for our blessings even when it hurts. When I pray now, I thank Him for almost 21 years with Derek instead of focusing on why this happened and what we are missing without him here. That is not an easy thing to do but that is where God is leading my heart this year. Our family has continued to have blessings in our lives after our tragedy and I want to get back to thanking God for them. To end my “first post of the New Year”, I will share a few of the things I am most thankful for:
- God’s grace and forgiveness and the promise of eternal life with Him
- My husband Casey that has stuck with me through the hardest experience of our lives
- Allie, Katie, and Luke’s strength and determination to persevere through the painful experience of losing their big brother
- Our family bond strengthening because of our tragedy
- So many precious and funny memories of our son Derek that I will start sharing this year
- Amos, the smartest Blue Heeler in the world that Derek left behind
- Family and friends that have loved and supported us even though we don’t have much to give back
- Derek’s amazing friends and Brooke that have shown such strength and character as they have continued to reach out and love our family
- My boss that graciously gave me three months off with pay to take care of myself and my family and continues to allow me flexibility to step away when I need to
- My giant tubs of unorganized pictures that hold years of precious memories
- Patience extended to me by my family and coworkers as I suffer from chronic forgetfulness or as some call it, “grief brain”
Lord, thank you for helping us through 2017. Thank you for allowing us to continue to see blessings in our lives during such a painful time. Thank you for the precious years with Derek and our wonderful memories of him. Help us to continue to look to you and see your blessings as we continue on this journey in 2018.
I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3