Anniversaries can be our wings & not our anchor, and I'm not talking about marriage
There are anniversaries every day of the year. Could be birthdays, marriages, events, etc. The most notable anniversaries are dates like December 25 (Christmas), January 1 (New Year’s), Easter, July 4 (Independence Day), and other holidays we celebrate yearly. These are what I call universal anniversaries or dates that we all recognize, remember, or celebrate.
Then we have more individual or family anniversary dates, like our birthday, marriage, kid’s birthdays, work anniversaries, and others. These types of dates we celebrate with happiness and joy, and most often a celebration with family and/or friends, cake and ice cream, a favorite meal, or even a significant party with all the typical fanfare.
As life progresses and we gain more sage and seasoning, we begin to celebrate other anniversaries. The death of a parent, spouse, or a divorce. Ones like being let go at work. Ones like the death of a child. Ones like a major catastrophic or near-death event to one’s self. Ones like a major life-changing event for yourself or a family member. These dates are often ingrained in our brains with huge giant scars on our hearts with a typical “time stands still phone call”.
For me, my first one occurred when I got a call on April 13, 2001, and my dad had been let go at his job as corporate banks counted people as numbers (and expense) and not real live human beings. The second “time stands still phone call” was in 2004 when my mom called to inform me that my dad was having a heart attack and headed to Wichita. The third one was in 2007 when my dad called and said, “we have been in a bad wreck on the bike. They are flying your mom out by helicopter, and me by ambulance.” Click, hung up because the nurse took his phone. The next was in 2010 when my wife called and said, “My dad has leukemia”, followed by his passing on August 15, 2015. Another date or time I recall was when my mother called and said, “Nels, I have breast cancer.” Another date of remembrance, which is a personal anniversary, was on June 15, 2016, at 5:15 pm in which I won’t go into, but put the biggest scar on my heart ever up until that date.
These are all dates and anniversaries in which “seasoning” of my soul and others like my wife or her family and my family, was able to occur. With more age comes more opportunity for these special God-given anniversaries. For our family, our biggest one to date in our lives occurred exactly 365 days ago come this Saturday. August 7, 2020, at 3:00 PM my wife called and said, “Nash is alive but he has been shot.” From there, our lives were changed forever.
By now you may be asking yourselves, what is he talking about all this depressing stuff for, holy crap!! Well, I am, because in my life of observations it appears to me there are three ways these “time stands still” phone calls or dates of anniversaries, are celebrated. They are memorialized with either fairly sad thoughts, or fairly benign indiscriminate thoughts, or celebrations of great love and memory for those dates and/or people.
As our family approaches our most monumental life-changing anniversary this Saturday, a flood of emotions run the gauntlet from the ever so deep pain we felt as our hearts were extracted from our bodies in those initial moments and first couple months thereafter, to the simple joy that life was spared and a huge new platform of purpose was given to our son and family. As I explore the opportunities of this date on Saturday, I can choose to either simply make it a day of sad undertones of the losses incurred on that day, or I can choose to celebrate what was given to us that day. You see, these dates are often firmly etched into our cerebrums, because of the deep pain suffered on those days. We can vividly recall and relive every detail of those moments in those days, and when we do so, the pain resurfaces in a not so enjoyable encounter.
The faithful beauty these moments give us are a very special God-given seasoning of our souls in which scars of personal growth occur. We can choose to lead with these scars of beauty or we can let them bury us. We can choose to let these etched-in stone anniversary dates feel like “a ton of bricks” and be our anchor or we can remove those bricks, and let the date be our wings. We can choose to get stuck in a long-term rut from these dates or we can use them to inspire us to grow and move forward.
Lastly, we can choose to just survive those dates and allow them to feel like a ton of bricks, or we can celebrate them with the great memories or great legacy given to us by those lost, or celebrate the pain incurred that we choose to allow our souls to grow who we are. We can let the anniversary date be our wings and not our anchor!! Let’s do that!!