My husband and I were married on New Year's Eve of 2002. It was a wonderful wedding and we had so much fun at our reception! It was such a blessed day.
We really enjoy having our anniversary on New Year's Eve as there's always something special going on - although we usually choose to spend our time alone together. The only real tradition that we have for our anniversary is taking the year's calendar along to dinner so we can look over each month and talk about highs & lows, who was sick when, what the weather was (I do write down major things: snow storms, flooding, etc), travels, ministry opportunities, etc. We discuss how we've grown, how we've seen our boys grow, where we see ourselves in the next year and even set some personal, marriage, and family goals.
But this year, I had the 2010 calendar put away on the shelf by December 28th. I was more than ready to start a new year. And honestly, I was hoping Jonathan wouldn't remember our calendar tradition. But sure enough, the afternoon of December 31st he asked me where the calendar was so we could take it along to dinner. I told him that I put it away. And I hoped he wouldn't go grab it for our date.
As we were getting in the car after kissing the boys good night and giving instructions to the sitter, he hands me the 2010 calendar. I look at it with dread. We drive the 30 minutes it takes to get to the restaurant and I feel a headache coming on. It's not your average headache, it's a stress headache that starts in between my shoulder blades and comes out my eyes. My neck muscles are tight and my skull hurts.
We are seated quickly, as my wonderful husband had made reservations, and I take a few ibuprofen to get through the evening. The food didn't even taste that good because my head hurt so bad. As we're eating our table-made guacamole, he pulls out the calendar, ready to dive-in to our tradition. And I tell him that I can't. I can't look at that calendar. I can't look over the year and talk about highs and lows, as my high started in January and ended horribly in April when we found out Elihu was dead. The depression that follows for several months and then finally a light. God's revelation to me about Elihu and the plan He had for his little life. I didn't want to think about how hard October 8th was. I didn't want to think about the pregnancy we discovered in early November. I didn't want to look at the month of spotting wondering if we were going to lose our second baby this year and I didn't want to look at the month of December and see our worst fears realized. I didn't want to see the date of our second D&C for the year and the pain and emotional trauma that we experienced right before Christmas. I did not want to look at that calendar. (Right now I can feel my shoulders and neck becoming tight again just as I write about it.)
I finally admitted my sadness, guilt, shame, anger, self-pity, emptiness to my husband and could finally feel my body relax. He was perfectly fine with not looking at the calendar and wished that I had said something sooner. It wasn't a big deal to him and that was such a relief. We made it through the rest of our dinner and decided not to stay for dessert. I was in a funky mood and didn't really want to stay there any longer.
We decided to walk to a coffee shop several blocks away in the freezing cold with the blustery winds biting at our cheeks. But it felt so good to me. The cold air was so refreshing. There were a lot of people out and about and it was weird for me to see how happy and hopeful they were. "What all these people were so happy about?"
We walked into the coffee shop and ordered our drinks and dessert to go. We sipped as we walked to our car and I felt relieved. I didn't have to reminisce the past year with my husband. I didn't have to go over those tough emotions of losing two babies in one year. I didn't have to dwell on that 2010 calendar. I could move on and hope for the things God has planned for us for 2011. I was finally feeling hope and I was ready to release the year 2010 to God, and put it on the shelf.
2010 was a painful year for us. And some day I will take out that calendar and pour over the things that happened and how we are better for them, how we grew both spiritually and emotionally. And how God was still with us through all that pain. I am so thankful for all of God's new beginnings: a new day, a new week, a new month, a new year. God is good to give us that fresh perspective, that fresh start.
I am thanking God for the hope that 2011 offers me, and I know that even if it's another painful year, that God is faithful and will always offer me a new beginning.