Here it is again.....August 5. That dreaded date on the calendar. As the hot days and warm summer nights of July lazily march forward, August 5 continues to advance on our family with as much foreboding as always. A date when, no matter how busy we force our bodies to be, our minds replay the painful events from that night over and over. Why is August 5 different from all the other painful dates we navigate through each year such as her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s day? For every person in our family, August 5 will forever be a permanent life marker of “before the accident” and “after the accident.” It also serves as a milestone, an unspoken anniversary of our own personal healing. Do I cry less? Smile more? Function better than this time last year?
On this particular day, in addition to my own pain, I'm fraught with worry over how our remaining three children will cope through the day. I know DJ will seek solace in fishing, Natalie will focus on work and her young son Caleb, and Shaun, I pray, will focus on his next drum corps performance. But what if he falls apart and forgets the choreography in front of a stadium full of fans? What if DJ, too distracted by the grief, falls into the river and drowns? What if Natalie has a meltdown at work, or worse, in front of her young son? These are the additional worries my mind juggles on this day.
The single most popular piece of advice we hear is that we must move forward, get on with our lives. But those very words grate on our exquisitely sensitive nerves like nails on a chalkboard. For you see, each and every day I work hard to help our family move on by attempting to put the pieces back together. But gluing it back together isn’t as easy, neat or tidy as repairing your favorite mug. Some days the glue is set hard as stone, the mug seemingly appearing whole and good-as-new to the outside world. On the inside however, the glue might inexplicably be wet in spots, soft to the touch, ever threatening to spring a leak without a moment's notice. Even if the glue carefully holds all the pieces in exact position, it will never truly again be a whole vessel, free of blemish or fracture scars, forevermore announcing to the world it once had shattered.
So you see, August 5 will always remain the one glaring date every year when our family's smooth, colorful, comfortable mug suddenly and violently fractured beyond recognition in 2009. August 5 is, and always will be, our personal day of "before" and "after."
Yes, I will always hate August 5. But I’m grateful that tomorrow is always just around the corner, bringing promise of a new day full of healing, another day of hope. And for that, I am thankful.