Grief: noun. Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.
Grief is a funny thing, really. We all handle it differently and each day looks different for each person. So, when we lose someone, it changes our outlook on life. The morning of December 3rd started out just like any other morning. It moved forward with a good family fight over outfits and running out of time while trying to get ready and out the door to go to the fabulous Christmas Festival Parade. Thankfully, God turned our morning around and rewarded our perfect family of four with the most enjoyable afternoon together! The day went on, we got our groceries for the week and we enjoyed time outside in the yard before Jack and Jackson went to watch the fireworks. I never in a million years thought at 5:15PM on December 3rd would be the final time I would see that beautiful smile and hear that voice tell me good-bye. If you know me, you know that worry is something I carry around all the time. I worry about the most unrealistic things and Jack would constantly pick at me for the things I came up with in my mind! But, with my unrealistic worries, the one thing I never worried about was losing my Jack, and I suppose, that again, is the Lord. If I had worried about losing Jack and it came true, that would only validate every other unrealistic worry in my life.
Today, Jack would be turning 38 years old. I often ask why his life was cut short and why our babies no longer have their daddy here with them on this Earth. I wonder why Jackson will not have his daddy here to kick the ball with him or why Elle will not have her perfect daddy to escort her down the aisle one day. I wonder why we won’t have more golf cart rides listening to Jack quiz Jackson about trees we passed or more boat rides listening to music and talking about birds flying by. In my short, less than two months as a widow and single mom, I have already learned a very important lesson: “Why” is not for us to ponder. While living my Earthly life, I will never know the “why” behind all this. I am a planner, literally to a fault. I have always had a problem with making plans and not fully embracing things in the moment because of what was coming next or because I would be overanalyzing how I should have planned for different things with more detail. Through this very difficult life changing experience, I have learned that plans can be laid out, but at the end of the day, God is the ultimate planner. I have also learned to shift my prospective in life. I have learned to wake up every morning, attack the emotions head on, and then move forward with my day. Notice “moving on” isn’t a phrase I use. I will never truly “move on” from what I saw as my perfect little boring life. I can however, choose to move forward. I can show our children what life is and how to live it. I smile every day and I make sure our babies see a happy mom who is passionate about many things. I find hope in every encounter. I see the beautiful in people. If you knew Jack, he would not want any of us crying over his absence. He would want us doing all the things to enjoy every moment and live this beautiful life to the fullest. Life is extremely short. I have learned to live every day, take risks, take opportunities, embrace change, welcome help, hug harder, and make a joke or two, because laughing is such good medicine!
It would be a missed opportunity if I did not take this time to thank the great community, we live in. Seven years ago, when we found out we would be moving to Natchitoches, I was apprehensive and resistant to change. We were moving from a nice sized SEC college town, (insert your Ole Miss and Mississippi State jokes here) where we had a ton of friends and I was struggling with the idea of basically starting from scratch. You all have opened your arms and welcomed me as if I have lived here my entire life. For that, I am forever grateful. You great people of Natchitoches are the ones who lift me and my babies up every day and keep us going. Jack and his family always told me how much they loved their time in Natchitoches and I see why every day, especially through our tragedy. Grief is a little easier when you have an entire town of people constantly lifting you up.
So, on this day, the day that Jack would be 38, I ask that you do a few things for me, in Jack’s honor. Make someone smile, be honest with someone, because Jack was the most honest man, and embrace the day, live in the moment, and have zero regrets. Our time on Earth is short and we all should be happy. Find your happiness and seek it out. Make your day great and do not stop reaching for your goals. Find a passion if you don’t have one. Enjoy your family and friends, call up an old pal just to say hey, and, last, but most certainly not least, thank God for all things good and bad. He is our protector and guide to us all.
Finally, Happy Birthday, Jack. We miss you but we are all smiling and enjoying the things you loved to do.