An Unexpected Gift

This week I came to the realization that for us, ‘real life’ is what has made this past year so difficult. There have been many things that have happened that I can’t or choose not to express here, that have complicated things for us. For the past year I’ve kept thinking that if we would have time to just grieve it would all be so much easier. Take away the complexities of life outside of grief and more healing would take place. That’s not reality though. Life goes on. This is one of the reasons I so badly wanted to go away for January 23rd–Mikail’s heaven birthday. Take away work (and the work cell phone), school, relationships, facebook, email, phone calls and see what would happen. It was glorious!!

We went to the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Hotel and Spa near Playa del Carmen, Mexico and my parents joined us. We chose to be internet free during our week and oh how wonderful that was. I didn’t cook once, and the food was absolutely fabulous. We truly relaxed and I found that taking away all of the noise of our lives was so incredibly healing.

We did not know what we would do on January 23rd–Mikail’s heaven birthday. We knew we didn’t want to plan anything. We knew we didn’t want the day to be full of symbolic acts. We knew we wanted to be together.

The morning of January 23rd, I woke up at 5:09 a.m. like I have so very many times since January 23, 2015. It is the time I believe Mikail went to be with Jesus. I had checked on him at 4:50 a.m. and his fever had broken, he ate 1/4 of a bun, drank some water and was content and coherent. As he fell asleep I could hear his breathing and I prayed that God would fill him with His peace so that he could sleep. At 5:09 a.m. I remember thinking, his breathing is peaceful. I think we’ve turned a corner. I then went into a peaceful sleep. When we found him lifeless at 6:50 a.m., his body was already in rigor, indicating that he was most likely already dead for a couple of hours. I believe he took his last breath at 5:09 a.m. that morning. I have woken up at 5:09 a.m. countless times in the past year. Each time I am filled with regret that I didn’t check on him one more time, anger, fear, and hundreds of I should haves. On January 23, 2016 I woke up at 5:09 a.m. with an amazing feeling of peace and a weight lifted from my heart. I believe it was God’s gift to me.

I could not fall back to sleep so I got dressed, grabbed my camera and was going to head to the beach, hoping to capture an amazing sunrise. Sadly the sky was filled with dark clouds and the ocean crashed with anger. I didn’t get my sunrise, but the peace that I woke up with, remained. I thought about the peace I was feeling amidst the angry sky and angry ocean. I thought about the evil and sickness and death that so often touch our lives here on earth. The peace I felt was such a juxtaposition against the angry sky and ocean. What an image. Our God, so loving and full of grace, can fill us with so much peace in this fallen world.

Following breakfast Jason, Olivia and I went for a walk in the botanical gardens (oh how Mikail would have loved exploring these paths, flowers, plants, birds, iguanas etc), ending with an ice cream cone at the Heladeria (he would have loved that too).

 Following lunch with Mom and Dad and a siesta, Olivia spent the afternoon with Mom and Dad and J and I had the chance to go down memory lane and just be without constant chatter around us. A true gift to us. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

In the evening we went on a date to one of the a la carte restaurants, followed by a fun coffee experience in the lobby of the resort. It felt so good to date each other again. It had been far too long. So much is lost in that first year of grieving and it was like we found an old part of ourselves again.

We had no idea what January 23, 2016 would hold. Would it be filled with heart wrenching tears? Memories and regret assaulting us? Flashbacks? In the 364 days of this first year, we felt like any important dates or anniversaries we had, we felt obligated to do what others needed or we felt others expected us to do to honour and remember Mikail. As a result, each time the day ended with such heaviness and exhausting tears. It was like taking three steps back instead of one step forward. On this 365th day, we did what we needed to do for us for the very first time and the amount of healing and peace we felt was indescribable.

January 23, 2016 was a day filled with peace, fond memories of the past, making new memories, and just being in each other’s and God’s presence. It was a true day of healing. A gift.

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