A week before my son passed away, my then 4 yo daughter, my mother-in-law, and I went on an adventure to the local mall. We were going to “set up stones to remember” in the form of getting our ears pierced.
I knew Noah wasn’t going to be alive the following week, and though getting a piercing isn’t all that radical, my mother-in-law had never had her’s pierced, nor had my daughter. In fact, since I had to wait until I was 10 years old to get my ears pierced, I had that age in mind as a rule of thumb for her, too. (Why?!)
Who went first, I can’t remember. Probably Em. She beamed with excitement…but as I’m typing this I remember now that the technician slipped and one of Em’s earrings was kittywampus and Jason ended up pulling it out with pliers at home, requiring a second visit.
We were marking something significant:
– a reminder.
– a memorial.
– something close to us so we’d never forget.
And I tried. As a woman who had gone through a painful miscarriage and two vaginal deliveries by the time of this cartilage piercing, I had a high pain tolerance, so the fact my cartilage stung for almost 3 years straight paled in comparison to losing my son.
But by God, I was determined to keep that piercing as a memorial stone stack, forget the fact I could no longer sleep on my left side…my favored sleeping side of 35+ years at that point. And then one day, somewhere during the 3+ year mark of continued stinging and bleeding, I took the piercing out.
I took it out, not because of the pain in my ear, but because clearly I knew I’d never forget losing my son.
Not remembering Noah wasn’t going to happen and nursing martyrdom pain had no power to change my reality.
We all have things we’re afraid of…afraid of doing or afraid of forgetting.
You won’t forget the pain of the past. There may be a scar…and possibly a void. But pain and loss do transform us and we can find healing over time if we allow its course.
Our pasts are part of us, but living in the pain of the past doesn’t lend toward being fully alive TODAY.
If there’s something in your past that has been holding you back from living fully in the present, as you remember your loved one, maybe today is the perfect day to take that earring out of your cartilage…to remove the martyrdom in exchange for fully living?
Remembering you’re still alive might be the most beautiful memorial you could ever offer.