Come fly with me...
I have been so overwhelmed with getting back to blogging. I want to be here. I'm sure that there's much to say... but I'm just overwhelmed. Where to start? Life has gotten busy and one day sort of blurrs into the next. I began this post with the intention of updating you on Ethan's schooling. And then it turned into something all together different. So the title of this post is kind of confusing. But you will get to the punchline... eventually. :-)
We were able to get Ethan into a very small Christian school that is about five minutes from our home. It's the same school that Ellie attended. Ethan had such a wonderful experience in Kindergarten last year, and while he learned so much, we have decided that he could benefit from another year of Kindergarten before moving on to first grade. If we had stayed in Montana, it would have been more important for Ethan to move up with his class - all kids he had been with the previous year. He would have had some struggles, but they would have given him some extra assistance during the day to try to help him keep up. With the move, it seemed like a good opportunity for a fresh start, as he would not know the kids in his class and they would have no idea that he should have been in first grade. In this Kindergarten, Ethan is the oldest, and is the same size as the other boys in class (last year, while not the youngest, he was the smallest). He really fits in well with the looks and maturity of the other Kindergartners, and we hope that this will allow him to go into first grade with more confidence and the feeling of being ahead of the curve instead of trying to keep up.
Today was Ethan's big day - the first day of school! He was pretty nervous going in, especially when the whole school gathered in one room (very small amount of people in comparison to most schools, but in the eyes of a six year old it was a crowd). Each of the new students was mentioned by name - but not pointed out and asked to stand or anything. Ethan had this look on his face that showed that he was sure there was a spotlight shining directly onto his little head, and when his name was mentioned, Ethan just dropped his head down to his chest in utter embarrassment. After he was safely settled in class with his four classmates, we left. It was so special to look through the window and see Ethan sitting at the same table where Ellie sat in Kindergarten. When we picked Ethan up at 12:15, he was all smiles! Whew... one day down... and lots more to go!
Thank you for continuing to keep up with us. Some days are difficult - there are so many memories of Ellie surrounding us continually, particularly at the school. Still, there are more good days than bad, even though Ellie is never away from our thoughts. It is a difficult thing to describe. In the beginning the grief was so raw. Emotions were always ragged and intense and even violent. But what other people often perceive as a lessening of grief over time is actually a learning to function with the grief. It is something we wear every day as a part of the fabric of who we have become. Ellie's memory - sort of the perfume of who she was - is a part of every breath that we take. In this way, the grief is less volatile, but no less present. The edges of this grief are smoother... softer, perhaps. But always, always there.
I may be a bit biased, but I believe that we have the best friends and family out there. We have been blessed constantly by people who ask us how it feels to be back. They sincerely want to know how this move has affected us. And they speak Ellie's name. Without hesitation. They give voice to the constant ache that lives in our hearts. Our eyes may well up with tears... but then so do theirs. We may smile and laugh over some silly memory... but then so do they. I could give examples too numerous to count... Ethan's teacher showed him a sticker that Ellie placed on a chart in the classroom five-plus years ago that has never been removed. Last night a sweet friend took the time to gently ask how life has been since we moved... and she truly wanted to know. Just today a friend told me that she nearly burst into tears when her daughter's new friend turned out to be exactly Ellie's age - even down to sharing the same birthday! The list could go on and on. I have come to realize that these amazing people have made a choice to wear this grief as well. To take it on as part of themselves. What is extraordinary about this is that they don't have to. It is a choice.
This topic brings to mind this verse: Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I believe that we have witnessed the playing out of that Scripture in our loss of Ellie. I looked up the word "bear" and found several meanings that spoke volumes: 1. to hold up; support 2. to suffer; endure; undergo 3. to carry in the mind or heart. As I look around me at the people who love us, tears come to my eyes when I realize that they hold us up in practical ways and in prayer, that they suffer under the weight of Ellie's loss, and that they continue to carry her in their minds and hearts. I hope that you know that I am not only talking about those that I see and speak with daily, but all of you who have followed this blog. You have truly borne our burden in every sense of the word.
For years I have been blessed as the recipient of such burden bearing. And then Jared died. My world view took a sudden, radical about-face. I found myself watching the fresh, harsh grief of his wife, siblings and parents... and wondering what to do. This wave of understanding washed over me in the form of lessons learned from all of you. The answer was to bear the burden... put it on, breathe it in, and mingle my own tears with theirs. The sweetest insight of all dawned when I realized that God truly does work things from all angles. We all know of the blessings to be had when your burdens are lifted by your loved ones. But I discovered that God's blessings abound and are poured out with such generous grace on the ones who suffer by choice. I recently copied down words from the ending of one of my favorite TV shows because I was so struck by the truth in them. "When you love someone you open yourself up to suffering... That's the burden. Like wings, they have weight, we feel that weight on our backs, but they are a burden that lifts us. Burdens which allow us to fly."