balloon release line of friends

 

When I climbed into our attic the day after Thanksgiving,

I had no idea what was going on just outside our front door.

As I tossed down one childhood memory after another –

Pokémon cards

Stuffed animals

Random toys

I didn’t realize a new memory was forming on our street.

Our attic overflows with memories of a season filled with children.

On this particular day, some of our children were home.

And reliving these memories is so much easier when the kids are here to share them.

Maybe that’s why the ringing of our doorbell meant so much to me on this particular day.

____________________________________

See, tomorrow is the ten-year anniversary of saying “goodbye’ to Nick.

A decade without our brown-eyed boy.

How have we survived?

 

When I opened the front door last Friday,

sweaty from my time surrounded by insulation and box after box of days-gone-by,

I immediately knew the answer.

We’ve survived because we do not walk this road of grief alone.

The first words I heard were from my dear friend, Roxy,

“It’s been ten years, and we wanted you to know we haven’t forgotten.”

My breath was taken away as I looked beyond her to the street.

 

She then placed two balloons in my hand.

A red one for Nick and a pink one for Adrienne.

I heard Lexie’s voice next,

“And look what I found! These were the only ones in the box!!”

In her hands were two heart-shaped balloons.

It was difficult to speak as I walked toward this long line of friends

who had taken time to step away from their own holiday gatherings to share in the sadness that always covers ours.

I didn’t even notice how wet my socks were getting as I walked through the grass.

It’s funny what you overlook when your heart is filled with so much love.

I had to hug them one by one.

I had to touch each friend who had made the decision to touch our hearts in such a special way.

Words seemed inadequate as Tim and I stood before them.

How could we say “thank you” to a group of people who had chosen to face our pain on a day they could have easily looked the other way?

  

As the balloons floated into the sky, Luke caught this picture.

It was as if the balloons were forming a heart as they made their way toward Heaven.

Later that day, I learned my friend Brandy was holding a blue balloon in memory of her sweet Dawson

and a Spiderman balloon had been placed in Elaine’s little hands in memory of my friend Jackie’s grandson Ryker.

I’m so glad these two photos were able to catch these balloons filled with their own special memories before they flew away.

Grief is hard.

Holiday grief is even harder.

But shared grief………..

Well, it just changes everything.

Tomorrow will mark ten years of walking forward in a life I never thought I could even crawl through.

My attic is filled with memories.

And my heart is too.

I’m so thankful for family and friends who still want to share in both.

Today, if your heart is aching, please know you’re never alone in your sadness.

God is always there.

And He wants to save you.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

I’m here too if you ever need to talk.

tammynischan@gmail.com

And thank you to all of my friends who continue to be there for me.

IMG_3892

/ / / / / / / /

 

I hear the men working right outside my window as I type.

Faint voices floating softly just above the sound of

old asphalt being busted apart

then scooped into a big truck.

________________________

Bits and pieces of our family story are

imprinted on the piles of rubble

right outside our door.

And in just a matter of hours,

they will all be hauled away.

Well, most of them will anyway.

Thankfully, I returned to the house while one load of overused pavement

was being delivered to wherever they take treasures that won’t fit in an attic.

Thankfully, I had a moment alone to reflect on what was happening

and as I shared with my husband later what my heart was feeling as I stood there,

I think we both would have packed every chunk of asphalt into boxes and kept it if there had only been a way.

Because we knew what the construction workers will never know.

We knew every piece of this broken asphalt holds part of our hearts.

We brought two newborn babies into our home using this driveway.

And they eventually learned to walk right here.

All of our boys learned to ride bikes up and down this little section of earth we call our own.

They shot hoops.

Played horse.

Walked to their first cars

and headed out on their first dates………

and their second and third.

Our daughter did the same.

She took some of her very first steps in America from our mini-van straight to our front door.

This was the tiny road that paved her way to a big life.

Skateboard ramp performances,

chalk art displays,

Olivia-directed cooking shows,

and Christmas-morning surprises

all happened here too.

If only I had a way of counting all the family members and friends who’ve pulled in to visit over the past twenty-five years.

Some for minutes.

Others for days.

Or the number of college students who’ve arrived

in groups of ten or more for weekly d-group gatherings

in the past two decades.

Nick raced his siblings and his friends up and down this very driveway,

carried by an electric wheelchair.

He had a way of making us laugh during the most painful chapter of our life by turning this patch of pavement into a Nascar track.

This driveway holds memories.

And without shedding one tear,

there are men just within my grasp who are trying to take them all away.

As I stood in the midst of the mess earlier trying to create a slideshow in my head of all the life we lived in this very spot,

I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness.

How can a foundation be ripped away so easily?

How can something so sturdy suddenly seem so weak?

God must have felt my ache.

He knew exactly when I would return home today and where I would stand.

He knew what I needed to see before I even knew I needed it.

As I turned to leave the busted slabs of my journey as a mom,

I tried to remind myself that memories should never be stored in material things.

And that’s when I looked down.

Little did I know I was standing so close to the very thing I thought I was losing.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

As if the men had bent down and taken a chisel to handcraft a gift,

love was right there in the middle of the mess.


And truthfully, our life has been wonderful.

But it’s also been a very big mess.

Sickness

Loss

Hurt

Disappointment

Rejection

We’ve had our fair share of heart-breaking moments.

So why wouldn’t the very foundation we stood on as we raised our family

break up into the very thing that continues to keep us whole?


Piled in the rubble and destined for the bed of the soon-to-return dump truck,

love was there.

Patiently waiting for me to get home.

________________________

I’m sure anyone who saw me was scratching their head.

Why is that woman standing for so long in the middle of a demolished driveway?

How many pictures does she need of that mess?

And why is she bending down and taking a piece of it into her home?

In these kind-of sacred moments,

it’s easy to forget people may be watching.

When your driveway becomes the Holy of Holies,

everything worldly quickly fades away.

And for me,

Heaven showed up in our driveway

and kissed the very part of me that was hurting.

If you visit our home and wonder why there’s a piece of broken asphalt on our porch,

you’ll hopefully understand.

When Heaven visits and leaves a gift,

you can never throw it away.