“What’s wrong? Are you cold, Mommy? Are you crying? Why are you wearing Austin’s coat?” My two-year-old little girl came up and snuggled beside me as I quickly wiped the tears that were streaming down my face.“I’m okay, sweetheart. Mommy’s heart just feels cold right now, because I miss Austin so much.”
“That makes your heart warm again, Mommy?”
“It helps me to not feel so sad, Kyra.”
“But, Mommy, I don’t want you to die like Austin did…”
These last few days, I have been pondering her innocent question of what can make my heart feel warm again. Because, in all honesty, my heart has again been feeling the deep, aching chill like a formidable January snowstorm that you can’t do anything about. As much as you want the storm to go away, you can’t force it away.
Although I grew up in the snow belt of northwestern Pennsylvania, I really don’t enjoy cold weather and usually prefer it ten degrees warmer than most people do. In much the same way, I also like things that warm my heart. Whether it is a long visit with one of my sisters, sipping a hot drink while having a date with my sweetheart, or a getaway with special friends, I always cherish these times. I try desperately to avoid the tough times that bring pain to my heart, making it feel like a frozen chunk of ice. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing we can do to protect our hearts from feeling pain and loss. However, there is something that can help ward off the “chill” before it destroys us.
This year, I was amazed that I was truly excited again to experience the holidays with my husband and children, as well as our extended families. This was our third Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year without our oldest child, Austin. Austin loved the holidays more than anyone else in our family, and he enjoyed helping me to make it special for everyone. I long for our four daughters to continue to have fond memories of our holiday times together, so I did everything possible to create a meaningful environment. However, I was unable to keep the nostalgic memories from engulfing my mind and bringing a sense of emptiness along with them.
It seemed like no matter how much I tried, I simply couldn’t shake these unwanted feelings that continued to follow me each day. Finally, after New Year’s Day, I shared my struggle and my heart with my husband. He was so gentle and wise as he helped me to identify that the emptiness and feelings of depression were still a part of my journey with grief. After allowing the pent up emotions to finally resolve into tears, I no longer wondered why I was feeling like I did. I knew what was bothering me, and why I had been feeling this touch of depression throughout this holiday season.
The holidays are, to some, a joyous time, and many people seem to thrive from one year to the next. For many others in our world, the holidays are a stark reminder of what they have lost, or maybe have never had. It is a lonely time, and once the break is over, they are relieved to get back to work. I am sure that many of you can identify with similar feelings to what I experienced these past few weeks. Has your heart felt some of the coldness that I described? Did you yearn for something that you saw others so freely enjoying? What is the answer when we struggle with these feelings? Is it just something that we need to endure each year? What can help our hearts to thaw from the bitter cold that wants to paralyze us?
Since the holidays, I have been attempting to focus on my blessings, and the greatest thing that has warmed my heart, has been focusing on my eternal home where I know that all my longings and desires will forever be fulfilled. Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We may experience many special moments woven into the fabric of our lives, but we will also experience many snarls and tangles that remind us that this world is really not our home. These trials should not upset us but rather remind us to look forward to Heaven as we constantly thank God for our blessings today. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Heb. 13:14)
May your hearts be warmed by Jesus presence and your hope of eternity!
-Cindy (For The Mullett Family)
Kathryn CoblentzPosted at 12:21h, 12 January
My heart hurts with yours, becasue we have 2 grandsons in heaven and my first husband. Another grandson Leighton Jay Akins, had a heart transplant in 2006. (we had communicated about this before, but I don’t expect you to remember it all) Now he is facing another possible transplant. They are giving him gamma globulin infusions, in hopes of postponing or taking care of the problem. It’s not your typical rejection, so they/we don’t know what to expect. So our hearts are heavy also.
And now you know we can empathize with you. And we know what a brave face you have to put on day after day. God bless you and your family
Grandma to Leighton
JoannaPosted at 13:22h, 12 January
I know you don’t know me but I had to reply today! I thank you so much for the encouragement and boost you gave me today! I have been going through a grieving process with our son with special needs right now and sometimes have been feeling so “I’m not sure how!” :)kinda lost maybe, unsure, alone at times, overwhelmed, ‘cold hearted’,…. but I KNOW God gives me the grace for anything I have to go through and to have someone put it down on ‘paper’ like you just did gave me what I need to keep on going!
I am very excited that Austin is sooo happy and whole in Heaven but my heart also cries for the pain of your loss!! May you continue feeling God’s warm arms of love around you!!
God bless you and thanks for sharing!
MarlenePosted at 18:19h, 12 January
Cini, I can identify with some of those feelings and am so thankful that all this is tempary and our eternal home is wating! That makes it all worthwhile and indeed warms my heart! Thanks for sharing , praying for you all.
Duane & CindyPosted at 17:16h, 14 January
Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us. I am so sorry to hear about all the disappointments and terrible losses that you have experienced! I can only imagine all the pain that goes with this. What would we ever do without the grace of God? I’m also sorry to hear that Leighton is struggling again. We will be in prayer for him and for the rest of your family as well. May God’s peace carry you through each day, knowing that we are one day closer to our eternal Home. Please keep us informed!
Duane & CindyPosted at 17:43h, 14 January
I am so grateful to God that you were encouraged since it is only BECAUSE OF HIM that I have anything to write about. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God’s ways work…IF we just do things His way. So often, my flesh gets in the way and hinders the beautiful picture that He is so exquisitely painting on the canvas of my life. I pray that God will bless you with much grace, strength and purpose as you struggle with the “whys” but choose to allow His ways to be seen as you love and care for your son with his special needs. God’s love is shown in a greater way when we reach out to assist those who can’t help us in return. I’m praying for you!
Duane & CindyPosted at 17:48h, 14 January
Thank you so much, Marlene, for the love and prayers sent our way. Yes, Heaven is what we are all waiting for, and I long with you for that day! Be blessed!