Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Not Just Another Day
Today marks another anniversary. Troy deployed to Iraq on Sept. 3rd, 2006. As of today it has been exactly two years since I last saw Troy. Since I last touched him. Held him. Kissed him. Not the last time I felt loved by him, as I know he loved me until he took his last breath. But it has been two years since we were together. Two years since we had a normal life. The day he deployed an unevitable chain of events began to unfold. An unstoppable series of change. Becky became a live-in nanny and not just our favorite babysitter. I became a "pseudo" single parent (only a precursor to what would later become the real thing). The children began to learn how to rely on one parent to meet their needs. I learned to trust the Lord moment by moment when the times got tough. The earth shifted two years ago today.
There are probably many who think, "Wow, I can't believe it has almost been two years since Troy Gilbert died". But I can assure you, there couldn't be anything further from the truth. These last two years have, at times, inched by at a snail's pace to me. I feel as if he left for a trip when I was young and now I find myself old realizing he is never to return. I am speaking of emotional aging but I noticed that the physcial aging phenomenon has happened to me as well as I was looking at some photos of myself the other night. I found some from Troy's memorial service. Though I have a distant look in my eyes, I think I look so much younger. Maybe pain and suffering somehow speed up the aging process a little bit. Or maybe I just FEEL old.
I wonder back to that day and have tried to retrace our final good-byes. I remember it was a Sunday morning. The kids were sitting at our round kitchen table eating breakfast and he went around to each one and spoke soft words of love and encouragement to them. I watched him hand each of the bigger kids a small silver F-16 pin to put on their backpacks. I think he told Boston that he was the man of the house while Daddy was away. I remember standing in the kitchen at the stove and crying. I recall one moment of comic relief when Bella (then 3 yrs old) looked up at him as he was speaking to her with tears streaming down his face and told him he was being a "cry baby". She probably deserved a spanking but instead we just laughed. Someday she, herself, will cry over those silly childish last words.
Friends took the bigger kids to church and my friend, Heidi, came over to sit with the babies. She gave up her Sunday morning family time to give me the precious gift of being able to park at the airport, go inside with Troy and enjoy the last meal we would ever eat together on this earth. Thank you Heidi.
He took a photo of me at the restaurant to take with him to the desert. It came back in his footlockers. I remember finding it and noticed how innocent I looked. Not knowing what would rock my world only 3 months later. At least we don't know the future. I do believe God does not reveal the future to us - as we would be paralyzed with dread and fear in the present for the pain that awaited us OR we would only be living for the good thing that lie ahead. Either one would rob us of today's joy. Or at the least, today's journey.
It is the journey of my (ours now-mine and Jim's) today that has me feeling a little blue. I know it is much better than my past two years journey but, at times, the loss of that innocence makes it an uphill climb for Jim and me. We know what can happen in the blink of an eye.
Today at lunch, he and I discussed the kids needs, our needs and the household needs. We both felt a bit worn out after the discussion. We strive to be all God wants us to be both in parenting and marriage. But we feel we both fall short due to the amount of demands a large hurting family of young children has.
Sometimes I feel victorious. Knowing of all the things that could have happened even worse than they did. Feeling the Lord's helping right hand upon me during the toughest days and nights. But sometimes I feel defeated. Burdened. Helpless. Indeed, I am a helpless thing. Helpless in terms of relying on SELF help and not Christ's help. So, today, I again turned my face to Him and asked Him for the love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control I need to co-pilot this life and co-parent this crew. I prayed He would literally rain down His mercy, grace and strength on me so that those fruits of the Spirit would grow to be plump, ripe and juicy. Right now, tonight, at the end of long day, my fruit is feeling somewhat raisin-ish. Lord, help us all serve You better in the difficult days. Make me a plum and not a prune to my children and my husband.
I do not know what I will be writing about two years from now. My first instinct is to pray there will be no tragedy I will be wading through. But in truth, I pray I will be walking with greater faith and closer to Christ. Okay, AND no more tragedy.
As I had no time to tell or show Troy how much I cared for him before he died, I have often questioned whether he knew my great love for him and have fought regrets of the things left unsaid. But I think back to that September 3rd day and I know I loved Troy well. I know because I let him follow his desire to serve his country in wartime knowing it was the last thing in the world I wanted him to do.
I remember kissng him good-bye at the security gate, going to the airport bathroom to cry and having to put all my chips in God's corner of the table that day. He's thankfully still got them. That's the only assurance I have that I will run this race. Despite what I say or do to the contrary, Lord - KEEP MY CHIPS. I don't want them back.
Posted by Jim Ravella