In 2013, on August 29th to be exact, my son and my two grandsons were involved in a very serious wreck coming from their house on Hard Rock Road to the pre-school where the boys were enrolled. After flipping at least twice, the mangled vehicle came to rest on the median that runs between the east and west bound lanes of Highway 64 just outside of Savannah—a place I seem to pass somewhat frequently if I’m headed to Waynesboro or beyond. And every time I pass that spot, my brain automatically revisits the day, bringing forth some watery eyes and a prayer of gratitude.
Gratitude because everyone survived almost unscathed. Anderson took the worst of it (imagine that . . .) but only required 14 stitches and some minor surgery later. Coincidentally, August 29th is the day before my birthday, so I told them I got the best birthday present possible. But it could have been so much worse.
If just one of those precious people had died in that accident, I know there would have been no more birthdays for me. Ever. Please understand that’s not a complaint on my part. It’s an observation . . . a statement of fact. When Death comes to call, or some other horrific event occurs on or close to someone’s birthday or a holiday, those days of celebration become anniversaries of loss. And sometimes they remain so until those who remember have passed from this life to the next.
A friend of mine told me years ago about his brother’s death at the hands of a drunk driver, a death that occurred on my friend’s birthday. From that day forward, his family, especially his aunts, rarely ever acknowledged his birth, but they never failed to mention his brother’s death. Effectively, his birthday ceased to exist, overshadowed by a loss they grieved until their deaths. And even today, when his birthday rolls around, he makes mention of the event so many years before and how that seemed to become the focus of the older generation.
Loss needs to be acknowledged. When it is pushed aside or hidden from view, it festers and grows like a terrible infection until it will literally take the life of the person grieving—not necessarily their physical life but most certainly their mental and emotional well-being. But at the same time, we shouldn’t choose to only acknowledge the loss and not recognize the blessings we still have.
When I updated everyone as to Joseph and sons’ conditions the day after the accident, I ended the post with a quote from Thornton Wilder—a quote I had forgotten until I started looking for the exact year for this post. I’m going to use it again today, not only because it is true, but also because it serves as a beautiful reminder not to forget those who are still with us in life while we are mourning those who are not.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”