The third week of May has been special for many years – and this week is no exception. In fact, it was even more so because two precious babies entered this world on May 16.
Upon hearing the news that my sister-in-law Erin gave birth to her girls (Selah Dawn and Everly Lou), I packed up my car and drove 12ish hours to see her and her husband, Zion and my new nieces. I didn’t care if only I saw them through a window for five minutes – I had to be there. They just mean too much to let this moment in time pass without a visit.
Of course, having a lot of windshield time, allows for plenty of thinking too. The timing of this week and adventure meant I was literally heading into another special date . . . my would-be 20th wedding anniversary on May 18.
One particular question came to mind as I processed this would-be date. “How do you move past the ‘would-have beens’ and shift to ‘what could be?’” This stumped me for a good part of the drive. There is so much joy in looking back at Josh and I’s story. Together, we often wondered what 20 years, 24 years or 44 years, etc . . . might look like – it was hard to imagine but fun to try. There are many moments when I still wish for this and I admit that realizing the "would-have been 20" did bring tears to my eyes.
Here in 2022, I am experiencing a different reality. One that means moving forward and looking ahead to what could be in this new landscape. Wrestling out the question mile by mile, the answer hit me somewhere in Kansas.
How do I move past the would-bes to the could-bes? By focus on “What Is.”
There is much to celebrate in what is happening in this season. Yes, there’s are hard pieces, but many moments to celebrate. I don’t want to miss the good moments and how God continues to speak in my grief journey by looking back too intently.
This year’s reality meant I spent my wedding anniversary with my late husband’s sister –– together in the hospital for a whole different reason than sickness or cancer. On this special day, I witnessed her and her husband holding their little girls for the first time at the same time. What a truly cherished moment to witness, and a memory I won’t forget. Together, we were teary-eyed for different reasons than grief.
On my return drive back to Missouri, I found myself listening to one of Josh’s sermons on love. He preached this message also on a third week of May (Mother’s Day 2012). I know I shouldn’t still be surprised by how God reveals his truth over and over again but once again I was.
In his message, he shared three main points about love.
Love is our Foundation
Love is our Fuel
Love is our Future
So, here I am processing life for what it contains today . . . a tornado of joy for what is, sorrow for what might have been, sprinkled with hope for developing relationships and more. Seemingly, this all fits perfectly and weirdly together. And the key . . . love.
May 18 will always be special because, as a “forever friend” said to me this week, “It’s special because it will always be the day you married Josh Brown.” It’s also the day I officially gained a bonus family (and sister). This year, it was special because I got be with my “sister” and her family for many special moments.
There are many more moments happening this week to celebrate. Moments to also lean into the could-bes and trust a bit more in what love is.
Moving forward in grief means taking on the challenge that love is also my fuel and future.
There’s joy in that for sure.
(Bonus pics of mom, dad, little baby hands, and Colorado.)
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.