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Letters to Taylor: On Lingering
This morning I woke suddenly with thoughts that I heard you stirring in your room. All the 22 years of mornings before you stopped breathing felt normal again for a split second. Then the reality of the pain surged forward, and I remembered. No, I didn’t physically hear you. That’s no longer possible.
Life without you on earth is moving on and it’s weird. Most people are beyond our family’s loss of you and at this point, many friends have stopped checking in. I’ve realized that whenever someone experiences a hardship or loss of a loved one, people stop talking about it for different reasons. It doesn’t mean that they no longer care.
Sometimes they just don’t know what to say. Sometimes they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Sometimes they are afraid that saying something won’t be necessarily wrong, but it will resurface the pain. They don’t want to cause more pain because of their love. Honestly, I am understanding the value of being more and more. Remember how I told you that you were the easiest person in the world to simply be with? I really want to be that person for others. Just exist in kindred spirit without expectations. You continue to inspire me every day and always will.
I haven’t been visiting the cemetery as frequently as I did right after you graduated to heaven. Sometimes I feel guilty for not going every day and then I remind myself that you aren’t there. Yes, I want to take care of your burial place, but the continual urge to straighten the temporary marker could become obsessive if I don’t keep myself in check.
When I go and visit your grave, I wish the ground wasn’t a muddy mess so I could just lie down on it and look up into the heavens. I’ve promised myself to do this as soon as I can place a blanket on the ground without mud soaking through. I believe that your view of God is so personal and beautiful right now and I’m wishing my vision was strong enough to see Him the same way.
I know the desire to care for the grave stems from caring for you meticulously for so many years. The permanent memorial stone is ordered, but the foundation can’t be poured until spring when the ground thaws. It’s odd to think that it will make me feel a little better when the stone is placed. It’s not because it’s a note of finality or closure, but I view it as honoring your precious life on earth.
Day before yesterday, I started cleaning out your closet. I’ve shed mostly happy tears from the beautiful memories, but I’ll be honest, a few times I found myself angry. I prayed and prayed some more. The sweet graduation bear from your preschool graduation. Your bath towel that Grandma and Grandpa gifted one Christmas. The stuffed animal that wears a shirt with a photo of us riding the roller coaster, care-free in the moment.
The list goes on and on. Uncertainty filled my heart as I tried to figure out what to do with all the things. Do we keep it? Give it to someone in need? Could a family member use it, or will they want it? So many decisions for one closet.
Having your sisters to help me sort through things is a huge blessing. But the process takes a toll on them as well. At bedtime on the night we started working on the closet, little Tessa declared before she laid down in the bed, “I’m sleeping with Taylor’s blanket, her pajamas, her bear, and her pillow.” I couldn’t prevent the tears from slipping out. It’s her 7-year-old way of feeling close to you. We are all finding ways to continue feeling close to you, and yet time marches on.
Today I’m asking the Lord to keep my memories fresh. I don’t want our home to be an imbalanced shrine to your past, but an unmistakable tribute of your impact. As we look to the future, I’m praying that the Lord will show us how to continue living for His glory with you in our hearts.
I sense the Spirit of the Lord lingering on me and I long to share His words of strength and encouragement with others. I just don’t know how people survive the valley of the shadow of death without our Savior.
Give Him a kiss for me.
I love you.