Before Amanda died, I never considered myself sentimental, not the least bit, but the loss of a child changes you. After almost two years, Amanda's room remains pretty much the same as it was when we lost her. Her car sits in the driveway still, unmoving day after day, week after week, month after month.
Every day I think of her. Every single day I picture her doing the things she did. Those visions are almost as vivid as if she were still alive...almost.
The other day on a trip to a cross country meet I saw a rainbow, only the second I'd seen since she died. The rainbow has an extraordinary significance these days. The song Amanda used for a ringtone when she was killed was "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. The line from that song rings in my head at least every day, "Make me a rainbow. I'll shine down on my mother." So every time I see a rainbow, to me it's Amanda shining down on Janice.
The rainbow is also important because it reminds me of the trip we took the summer before Amanda was killed. It was the first trip of its kind we made as a family. For two weeks we toured the western United States, the four of us in our Blazer. Along the way, in eastern Montana, we went through the strongest thunderstorm I'd ever seen. After we made it through, a beautiful double rainbow appeared. Amanda took some great pictures of it.
Sometimes the silliest things, the most unexpected things, remind me of Amanda. In that storm mentioned above, we were bombarded by golf ball sized hail. I still drive the same Blazer and it has a crack that runs horizontally just below the middle of the windshield from side to side. That crack began a chip created by one of those giant hailstones. This dawned on me the other day and immediately reminded me of Amanda and the rest of us surviving that terrible storm together. I realized then that I'll never have that windshield replaced.
Some think that time heals all wounds. Some even Say so from time to time. But Amanda's death left a hole in us that will never heal. We'll learn to live with it, with the pain that comes with it, and even adapt to accommodate it, but we'll never get over it.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -- Philippians 4:13
What makes it possible to continue on, to press toward the goal, is knowing that Jesus Christ came, died, was buried, and rose again so that when it's our time, we'll join Amanda in paradise. We'll be with her again and we'll spend eternity with her in a place that knows no tears, no pain, and no loss.
Without that security, I don't know how anyone could survive such a tragedy, how anyone could keep going. I know I couldn't.
Twenty months have now passed since I last told my daugther goodbye. And it's still tough. But if it's God's will, I'll make 21, 22, and however many more He has in His plan for me. But it will never be easy.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.