Six years ago today, I spent the day calling every hospital and social worker I knew, trying to locate Jolene. At first, my mind hadn't gone further than hospital or even jail. With each passing negative answer, my mind swayed toward the inevitable conclusion: she's dead. When the coroner called at midnight, I knew before he said a word.
This year, the dates the story played out fall on the same days of the week as six years ago. It's been particularly poignant.
Will the time come that I don't think of this week of March as "the" week, the one I have to endure, when the lives of my children started and one ended? Perhaps not.
Will the time come that I don't feel the need to invite my friends to grieve with me, when I keep the memorial silently? I hope so.
Will the time come that I will rejoice in the birthdays of my granddaughter (on the 6th) and of my son (14th) and not let Jolene's death overtake the celebration of their lives? I try. They deserve it, especially Jaran, who must feel Jolene's needs took precedence over his when he was little. Let's say it's like love is a verb, not a feeling. I sing while I work and write and send cards and make phone calls--and I can focus on them.
Will the day come when that happens without so much effort? Not yet.
Yesterday, Jolene would have turned thirty. I can't imagine her as a thirty-year-old. She is and always will be almost 24 years old. I don't know what twists and turns her life might have taken. I don't know if she would be happy. Her borderline personality disorder messed with her emotions all the time.
On the other hand, Jaran is 34. Their eldest, Savannah, turned 18 (his step. No, he wasn't 16 when she was born) and will graduate from high school in the spring. He has a good job and he provides a good income for the family. He loves the Lord and loves His word. Every now and then I see someone on television who reminds me of Jaran--dark hair, glasses, full beard--and I take a second look. When he brings my "babies," I'm thrilled to death. He says that Isaiah (now 3) clamors to come see me, and that makes me feel wonderful. And Jordan--well, she runs, hugs me, and we giggle together.
This year, all in all, has been easier. Writing poetry has helped me focus my feelings and let them go.
Thanks to all of you who continue to reach out over the years.