As I stood over the gravestone of my mother and sister, I thought back to all of the times I had been there in the past. I realized how different I am from when they were first buried and even over this last year. I’m no longer the same little ten year old girl wishing her Mom would come back. I’m not twelve years old, crying into my sister’s shoulder as we looked at their gravestone on Mother’s Day. I’m no longer fifteen, thinking of how things could be a little better if I could hug my Mom or see Shannon’s smile again. The gravestone always looks the same, but every time I see it I am different. I am changed. I’m going through life without them and constantly finding out more about myself and losing memories of what they were like. I want to hold on to them, and in a way hold on to who I was when they died because that’s who they knew me as. But I’m still me. I’m still my Mom’s daughter and Shannon’s sister. Nothing on earth will ever change that, even if I’m growing and adapting to life as it is now, without them.
Change is inevitable, but there are some things that will never change, at least here on earth. Although I will see my mom and Shannon in heaven, there’s no changing the fact that they died. There’s no changing the last eight years without Mom and no changing the last seven without Shannon. And that’s hard. Really hard.
Change is terrifying. We get so used to how things are that we lose our sense of self when change comes. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t know how to handle it. It’s easy to think that who we are is defined by what is surrounding us, so when our surroundings change we lose ourselves. I have personally found that once I feel more like myself, I’m so different from when I lost myself. Growth is an aspect of change, but sometimes it hurts. I am so thankful for where and who I am today, but I’ve also had to go through some pretty tough things to get here. It’s not easy and it certainly isn’t fun. I have experienced so much change (good and bad) that it’s hard to get comfortable with the present because I’m constantly scared it will change too. But I have the opportunity to keep moving forward, to keep growing and changing, and that amazes me. You have that same opportunity.
There are many things I wish I could change but I can’t. There are other things I wish would stay the same that are inevitably going to morph into something new. I wish I could have my Mom and sister back. I wish quarantine would end so I can visit the people I haven’t seen for years. Things will change, but not everything we want to. It’s frustrating to accept that. (I mean, hopefully quarantine will, in fact, end.) I know it’s all in God’s plan and there’s a reason for everything, but we don’t always get to see the reason or the plan. I still don’t understand how I am so loved and blessed. I don’t comprehend why my Mom and Shannon had to die when they did. I don’t grasp how Jesus loved me so much that He died for me. I don’t understand, and that’s okay.
I am not the same person I was as I stood over Mom’s grave eight years ago. The grave is the same. My Mom and Shannon are both buried there still. The world has changed. Trends change. Other people change. People have died since then, but other precious humans have entered the world too. The road to the house I used to live in is different. I no longer live there. I am different. I am stronger. I am a woman now. I’ve had so many more life experiences than I would’ve ever imagined. I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ and I am learning more and more every day just how much He loves me. Things have changed, and that’s ok. Things will continue to change, and that’s okay too. We need to learn to adapt to our surroundings without losing ourselves, while also allowing ourselves to grow into something better. It’s a scary process. There are setbacks, trials, triumphs, and situations we never could have imagined. But I firmly believe that it will be so rewarding in the end.