Today started out like any other day. The Hubs was lucky enough to have a day off due to incorrect material being sent to his job site so it was just us and the girls today. I felt more motivated than usual and set about my day determined to make some headway on the chaos our house had become.
Dishes were done, laundry was done, with the Hubs home I was able to get into town and get a workout before coming home to create a run for our baby Buffs and get them out in the sunshine while I worked on cleaning out their temporary indoor enclosure and gave them a fresh bed of wood shavings.
All in all, a pretty mundane, run of the mill, living the dream day.
Then I hopped on Facebook to catch up with my feed…and it hit me. Today is not a day like any other. It’s not a mundane, run of the mill, living the dream day.
Today was that day.
I always feel ashamed for forgetting. But I’m not good with dates. You would think that when significant dates sneak up on you enough, you’d make it a point to remember them…and yet I struggle. The Hubs can attest to that. He remembers a majority of the birthdays for me…my own included. This isn’t a joke. I one day looked at him and asked him how old I was because I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember. I know this should alarm me a little but I think it was shortly after Madykins was born so I’m blaming mommy brain for that one.
Eight years ago I sat in this same living room, waiting anxiously, terrified, hopeful and filled with dread all at the same horrible moment. They were emotions that piled on top of each other, neither figuring out how to gain its footing and one-up the other emotions.
My brother-in-law, thirteen at the time, had been in an ATV accident down the gravel road a ways. I’m not going to get into the details. I can remember it with such vivid clarity, down the the lights flashing off my windshield, that it hurts.
We lost him that day.
I can remember calling my mom, leaning on the steering wheel of my truck and trying to understand myself what had just happened, trying to force words past the sorrow choking me.
I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy. I’ve been to more funerals than I care – natural deaths, accidental deaths, suicide…and each has hurt in their own way. Out of all of them…this one hurt the most.
Landon was…such an amazing kid. He brought me flowers before my husband ever thought to do so, picking them from around the house and proudly handing me the bouquet. He had my heart from the get-go, effortlessly. He gave the best shoulder rubs, showed me the “right way” to fold towels (to this day I can’t remember the way I used to fold them), snuggled with me on the couch after I broke my arm being thrown from my horse, danced with me at his cousin’s wedding and years later was the Junior Groomsman at mine. He was one of those kids that steals your heart just by looking at you with his bright smile and infectious spirit. At his age, my cousins (no offense guys) were hesitant to hug people, especially girls. Landon gave his hugs freely, enthusiastically. There was no escaping his charm or vibrance. Not that anyone would ever want to.
The night he died was painful, confusing, heartwrenching.
But from this tragedy rose heros.
My mother-in-law became one of my heros that day. And I’m not blogging about this because I’m trying to be a kiss-ass. I’m blogging about it because it has to be said.
I remember walking into the funeral home the day of Landon’s wake and wanting to run right back out again. As if running away from it could stop it from hurting so much. Lenora met me at the top of the steps. I was wearing the locket Landon had given me for Christmas one year, worrying it between my thumb and forefinger. I remember looking at her, shaking my head because I had no clue what to do…what to say.
“It’s okay,” she told me with a sad smile, hugging me. “It’s okay.”
She was a rock. Even in the face of this horrible tragedy, her faith was unshaken. She was so gracious in her mourning, her heart was breaking…but there was a peacefulness to it. It’s really hard to explain, even for a writer.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen her standing so tall and sure in her faith. This woman has faced and beaten breast cancer. Next to my grandmother and my mom, she’s one of the toughest fighters I know.
Because of her…I was able to stop being angry, stop being confused, and accept the fact that God had larger plans for Landon. That he was needed somewhere else. Her strength in her faith strengthened mine.
It still hurts. It never stops hurting. You lose someone you love like that and the pain just manifests into something you carry with you. A scar on your heart where the person who was taken will always be.
I see him every day in my daughters smiles, in the things they do. Sometimes he even sneaks up on me.
There was one day I was going through all of our dvd’s and came across video from our wedding. I put it in and hit play, not recognizing the number on the disc. And there he was – sitting in a pew looking miserable. His head swiveled towards the camera that was being run by his older sister and he said “I’m hot. Not *waggle of the eyebrows and a click of the tongue to convey physical hotness* hot…but blaaaah hot.” It might have been a little warm in the church that day -especially for those wearing tuxedos.
Through my tears I laughed. I laughed so hard and it felt so good to find such a wonderful memory of him right within my grasp. And it was so Landon. Landon was the type to ask you if you had gotten tickets to the show, then flex and answer with such charisma “the gun show” when you asked what he was on about.
He held his hand up to me once, cupping it and said, “Do you know what this is?”
I smiled, humoring him. “No Landon, what’s that?”
He promptly put his elbow in the palm of his hand and grinned. “A gun rack.”
Writing this has been painful, it has been cleansing, therapeutic even…it’s allowed me to visit memories I haven’t for a while and to reflect on just how much other people’s strength has meant to me.
The path I walk now might be less bright without Landon’s special shine all over it….but I’d rather have that then a life where I never knew that light at all.
My heart had room before I knew you
When you smiled, it grew larger still
It had to make more room just for your spirit
For your smile it overfilled
The day your light was cast in shadow
My heart showed me what it could take
It made room for every memory
It grew strong so that it would not break
The days, the months the years have passed
And my heart continues to hold you tight
It will not release your memory
It will not put out your vibrant light.
Though you’re gone, I feel you here
Even if your home is up above
Heaven may hold your beautiful soul
But I will forever hold your love.