This morning we are quiet.
In the early hours, Russ and I sat together, coffee mugs in hands, talking and sharing tears. Year three of remembering the day we lost Kalkidan.
Today marks the most traumatic event we’ve ever experienced while also marking the day Kalkidan ran into the loving arms of Jesus.
Life is marked by the “befores and afters.” My 53 years seem to be divided this way: before and after I fully gave my life to Jesus, before and after Russ and I married and started our family, before and after we adopted our children from Ethiopia, and before and after the accident that nearly took my life and took our daughter’s.
Each of these events changed me profoundly.
Like deep grooves carved into wood, the changes are permanent. Some of the carvings were intentional and beautiful, others unexpected gashes deep below the surface. But like the wood of our dining room table, those scratches and marks are a picture of my life.
I’m glad our table doesn’t have a pristine surface; it reflects thousands of dinners, hundreds of gatherings, loved guests, hard conversations, long hours of work, and countless celebrations.
I’m not sure fancy, pretty tables are all that useful or welcoming.
In an unexplainable way, I’m thankful I was in the accident with Russ and Kalkidan. Experiencing the trauma, the memories, and the pain together binds us. Many marriages end in divorce following the loss of a child. In all honesty, this has been very hard on us and we have held on by threads at times, but today I feel hopeful and solid.
Tonight we’ll celebrate Kalkidan as a family by going to the trampoline park (which she would have loved) and out for dinner where we’ll eat spicy food.
Grief is a strange beast. At year one I felt confused, shocked, and fearful at every turn. At year two I felt deeply sad with shock and fear entwined. At year three, I feel sad while also wanting to help my family celebrate Kalkidan’s life.
Just a few weeks ago I was making our bed and the thought flitted through my mind, “I’m a mom who has lost a child,” as if it were the first time I’d realized it. Then recognition and reality set in.
So many of you grew to love her without ever meeting her in person. You prayed for her. You shared our joys and sorrows. Many of you wept when you heard the news of our accident.
Thank you for walking with us through the valley of grief, for continuing to pray for us, for your love and support. Remember to love your people well with an open heart.
(p.s. A special note of gratitude to Isaiah’s friend who recently found these photos and shared them with us – the sweetest of gifts.)