Each day that passes the raw truth of Christiano’s passing becomes reality. Each thing we do as a family screams that he isn’t here with us. When we do something old and traditional there’s an emptiness; a vacancy that will never be occupied. When we try something new, it feels foreign and forced, and I wonder ‘Will it always be like this?’ I’ve been ministered to by other grieving parents, and they promise that it gets better with time; that your child is never forgotten and that time helps to heal the human heart. Some days I can see how that will happen, and I’m hopeful, but then there are the other days – the days that I can’t see anything but the tears that flood my eyes. Thanksgiving was, overall, a good day. God, with His wonderful grace, was an ever present help to me as I cooked and prepared for the day. My brother, Shane, and his wife, Jessica joined us, and we were more than glad to have them here. We all gave thanks around the table, and each of us were specifically thankful for the time that we had with Christiano – all six thousand, eight hundred and thirty-four days of it. It was surreal not having him with us on a holiday that is so important to our family, but we were so glad Shane and Jess were here. We were able to get through, and we even shared in some good laughs, so those of you who prayed for us, thank you very much.
The next day, however, came with many more challenges. It is a strange feeling when you wake up and realize you’ve gotten through a big day without your loved one. Oddly enough, pleasure and pain are both present within you at the same time. The pleasure comes when you realize you’ve made it through and, even more so, your spouse and your children have made it through. Some more joy comes when you realize that you’ve all slept through the night. As you sit up, though, sorrow invades. Sorrow invades and sorrow stays. It stays because you know you’re one day further away; further away from his presence, further away from his smile; further away from his laugh, his hug, and his touch. But, then you realize that this also means you’re one day closer; closer to his presence; closer to his smile; closer to his laugh, his hug, and his touch. ‘Bittersweet’ is a word I see used quite frivolously, but this word truly describes my feeling toward moving forward. Moving forward produces pleasure and pain at the same time. It is bitter and and painful not to experience the tangible existence of our eldest son. It is an excruciating pain that runs unimaginably deep. And, just when you think it’s reached it’s landing-place, the deeper it moves because there is no final destination. Ultimately, it works to consume and devour, but something inside won’t let it. There’s something so sweet moving through us, attacking all the pain, and it won’t relent; it’s constant. It’s name is joy and it only comes from knowing Jesus. In Him, we find hope when hope can’t be found. In Him, we find life when faced with the fear of death. In Him, we find truth in the midst of the lies. In Him, we find light when the darkness closes in. In Him, we find strength even when we are at our weakest point. In Him we have faith when all we feel is doubt. ‘Only believe’ is what he whispers. ‘Only believe.’