Anniversaries are interesting. We celebrate some anniversaries and dread others. We hope that certain dates will remind us of the joys we felt or the love we shared when we began a relationship, married, or graduated from school. Sometimes we spend an anniversary celebrating a life remembered or the date we gave up a long and destructive habit. Whatever the anniversary - we remember.
Last week, September 17, was the one year anniversary of the date our then 16-year-old daughter ran away from home and our reality changed again and forever. I thought the day might go by quietly and without much reflection, but I am finding that on that day and each day since, I remember more clearly than the day before how I felt, what I thought, how I cried, and what I feared. The smells of late Summer/early Fall make the memories strong and vivid. The colors of the sky, the earlier sunset, the neighborhood kids making the daily trek to and from school - these are the things that fill the senses every day. The fact that these normal every day occurrences were still happening last year at this time seemed to me like a personal betrayal by the whole world. How could the Earth keep spinning on its axis when my world had stopped? One year later the sights, smells and sounds of this season bring it all back.
In a week and a half we will celebrate the one year anniversary of the miracle that lead to the finding of our daughter, followed by the anniversary of the date we left her in Utah at the place she was loved and nurtured for 7 1/2 months. We will then celebrate the one year anniversary of the date our son was taken to jail, and the first anniversary of the most difficult holiday season I could ever have imagined experiencing. I look forward to the bad memories being replaced by new and happier remembrances. Our lives, however, are changed forever - in so many ways for the better.
A crisis always brings out the best and the worst in all God's children. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers and the words of encouragement that came from people I could never have imagined knowing a year ago. I still marvel at the goodness that rises out of ashes. My family strives daily to recover from the pains inflicted on us by friends and family whose critical words, thoughtless actions, and mean spirited finger pointing made our struggle nearly unbearable. We mourn the loss of relationships we once trusted.
However, we know there is hope. Our daughter is healthy, our son returned home after 9 months in jail, and our middle son has not only survived, but has thrived in the midst of the storm. If broken lives can be rebuilt, so too can broken relationships - that is...if there is the willingness to take responsibility, learn from mistakes, and trim all that is unhealthy.
One year later....there is hope.