Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A bouquet of hope

You would think a mailbox would be safe.  Sure, the mail is mostly filled with bills, which is never fun but you expect them.  When you open the box, your guard is down.  Sometimes there is a bit of sunshine inside from a surprise card.  These days, those are rare.  In this world of social networking, people just don't seem to take the time to write out a greeting by hand and affix a stamp.  If I do find joy in my mailbox, I treasure it.

When there is mail for a child you've lost, it shocks you to the core...sends you spiraling right back down.  If your day was going well, it stops.  It's as if someone pulled the rug out from under you.  This was my afternoon.

Checking the mail is something I took over when Austin died.  It used to be something the boys did on their way in from the bus.  When I noticed Noah avoiding the mailbox, I began checking it for him.  Glancing out my window, I can still see them racing to see who reached it first.  As they grew older, many times Austin would hold back, knowing it was something Noah enjoyed.  With backpack straps dangling, they would bounce into the house, full of laughter or squabbling, ready to be the first to tell me about their day.  Noah would proudly present me with mail, unless Austin had grabbed anything he saw with his name on it.

At first, I braced myself for the expectation that mail would come for him.  Locally, everyone knew and although I don't know how it was stopped, I appreciated things like not getting reminders about check-ups and such.  For others that were seasonal, like invitations for WKU's gifted program, we called and asked to be removed.  Sometimes the calls were simple, business-like; sometimes they asked questions and the call would end in tears.  Now, over two years later, it just isn't something I'm prepared for.

The past few weeks have already been difficult, news of kids his age taking the ACT - or bigger ones like getting their license, is harder to hear than you can imagine.  I smile as best I can but inside another piece of me breaks just a bit.  It's yet another reminder of a milestone lost, a memory we will never get to have with Austin.  Then today, mail from a tuxedo rental company addressed to him with messages of a prom he'll not be attending.  It's hard.  Afternoons like this make you feel like you're back to the beginning, like any progress you made is gone.  When you add the rainy weather and atmosphere, it makes it even harder to find an ounce of joy, much less write about it.

And then, something changes.  Some small act of love or kindness comes floating in, unexpectedly. 

Tim arrived home from work - always a highlight in my day.  I put on a brave face, because honestly, we both try hard enough any given day that I never want to bring him down, in the chance he's had a good day.  He's not been feeling well, stubbornly shrugging it off as allergies, yet he comes in bearing gifts.

And one of the sweetest parts....
he picked them in the rain.

Tim knows I love them but I truly don't think he knows their meaning to me, especially now.

As always, I am amazed at the way joy can arrive...
at just the right moment...
in the most perfect way.


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