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Issue 20 - ©2003 by Kari West - Garden
of Special Days
Memories of special days that we once treasured,
and enjoyed are as inevitable as the seasons. A wedding anniversary.
The holidays. A former spouse’s birthday. In this issue
of the newsletter, we’ll talk about these calendar
dates that we may not want to remember yet cannot forget — and
the unexpected emotions that accompany them, even years later.
Here's what is new
If you are connected
to the Internet, Kari invites you to visit a new inspirational
section Relax. Enjoy!
(second from last button on left) featuring music and inspiration.
And while you’re there, please take a moment to leave
a gardening tip at gardentips@ garden glories.com along or
drop one in an envelope with your first name and the state
you’re from so we give you credit when we post the
A helpful resource
is “Shattered Dreams” by
Larry Crabb. You might recall that Lynn from Florida (Issue
17) suggested this book. After reading it a second time,
I ditto her recommendation. Now let’s meet Dawn in
by Dawn in California
The word ‘anniversary’ brings up many feelings
for me. It used to be a word of joy, remembering good times,
security, love. However, this year as I approached September
1st — the day that would have been my 23rd wedding
anniversary — I felt dread and great sadness. I wanted
to escape. It used to be a day that cards were given with
declarations of ‘love forever’. A time of yellow
roses or overnight trips. A day when we remembered our wedding
by listening to an audio tape of the ceremony and laughing
This year I was
newly divorced and certainly didn’t
feel treasured, as I thought back to the prior Sept. 1st
when my pastor husband told me he was living a lie, didn’t
love me, probably never did, and wanted a divorce. Now August-November
contain a series of bad memory anniversaries — discovering
an affair, of my husband being dismissed from the church,
of having to tell our children he was leaving. It is the
season when I learned the unbelievable facts of his betrayal,
loss of love, and the breakup of our family. This year those
dates in my history loom large. As I write this, today is
another one. One year ago he packed up his life in boxes
and moved out. I hurt, remembering another horrible day.
1st, while dreading the approach of our wedding anniversary,
I told my dearest friend how I was feeling.
As always, she was there, ready to encourage me, love me
and understand. I told her that I couldn’t just stay
home by myself with all those memories. Since Sept. 1st fell
on a Sunday, I knew that by being alone it was a recipe for
disaster! But I really didn’t have the energy or desire
to plan anything.
My friend told
me that we would make it a fun afternoon for just the two
of us and that I wouldn’t have to
plan. She took me to a charming tea room that I’d never
been to before. She wouldn’t let me pay — saying
it was a birthday present even though my birthday was a month
away. I was thrilled, never imagining that on my ‘real’ birthday,
my friend would also throw a party and give me a gift! We
dressed up and sat at a cozy table tucked in the corner and
enjoyed being served a beautiful tea, relaxed, and shared
lively conversation. We talked about many things — including
divorce. My friend walked with me through it all. She comforted
me, reminding me of God’s goodness and love. After
the tea, we did a bit of window shopping. I was carried through
a painful day by the graciousness and sensitivity of my best
I’ve learned that anniversaries, holidays and bad
memory days aren’t days we can walk around. We have
to walk straight through them. God’s promise, ‘I
will never leave you or forsake you’ is sure and true.
With the reality of this firmly in my heart, I march on knowing
I am fine, I am loved, I am surviving and thriving.
A suggestion for
getting through the holidays is change. My life has been
changed forever; not by my choosing. But
by trying to keep all the same decorations and traditions
I was causing myself too much pain. Little things helped
like throwing away the advent wreath my husband and I made
together 20 years ago when all of a sudden it felt really
ugly and buying all new bedding for myself for my birthday.
Of course, I’ve kept many things the same to give stability
to my two children; but things that cause me a glitch in
my ‘feeling monitor’ had to go. In keeping myself
connected with church family and friends, we’ve stayed
stable and well loved and taken care of.
people know what you are going through and of the painful
memories you are walking through, can be a
great thing. Somehow, for me, it dilutes the pain as I experienced
what it means to ‘carry each others burdens.’ I
hope and pray that I can be there for other people in this
way as well.
Help for today
Nobody ever said it was easy living out that first year
without the spouse we thought would always be there — or
that the memories of our shared life and joint traditions
would not come back to haunt us. Painful memories are everywhere.
An empty chair at the table pricks our hearts like a thorn.
A song yanks our thoughts back to the past. A distinctive
aroma replays a bittersweet event. An invitation to a party
arrives and our mind latches on to a memory, a time and place,
and a loved one now gone. A particular date on the calendar
catches us unaware — a birthday, graduation, or wedding
anniversary, whether it is someone else’s or our own.
In fact, the more that day meant to us, the great our grief.
The longer we live, the more experience we have with loss
and with the memories of these special days. But that doesn’t
mean we get better at going through them. While grief is
intended only for
a season, memories last a lifetime. And, as Dawn discovered,
whenever these memories wash over us we feel the pain afresh.
That first year after a loss it’s important to take
comfort in knowing that our Creator is an emotional being
who does not treat pain lightly. He gave us the ability to
cry. To Him, each tear is something precious to be treasured
and remembered. Since God isn’t uncomfortable with
tears, we shouldn’t be either. Weeping out of anguish
or anger reflects the truth of how the these special days
that remind us of our losses are impacting us. By acknowledging
our feelings, we cooperate with the grieving process that
God designed for our healing.
It’s also important to take comfort in knowing that,
in time and with our cooperation, we will move beyond the
raw grief. With the passage of time, the raw pain will evolve
into a more weathered perspective. Anniversaries and holidays,
and each and every special day connected with our past, become
opportunities for new beginnings — if we are willing
to see these important events and experiences as the history
of what has shaped us into the person we are today. If we
erase the parts that contributed to the whole, whether the
memories are happy or not, we erase what is our unique selves.
As you relive the story that you may not want to remember
but cannot forget, celebrate your life. Whenever you recall
the past and are thankful that it happened at all, you revolutionize
its meaning. As you look back through your tears, don’t
forget to notice how far you’ve come and to believe
that your life is not over yet. No matter how it may appear,
you are not alone.
- Your Creator loves you passionately. (Psalms 139)
is the one and only lover who will never leave you. (Matthew
- Angels guard each wobbly, scary step you take toward
the rest of your life. (Psalms 91:11-12)
You’ll know when the time is right to let go of what
isn’t, so you aren’t stuck in an unlived life.
To toss out that Christmas wreath from the past. To trade
in (or give away) the jewelry from an anniversary. To brainstorm
a new way to celebrate your birthday. To make room in your
closet and heart for what may be waiting in all the moments
yet to be. (After all, like many of us are discovering, if
you hang on to things in your closet for too long, they may
shrink two sizes!)Right now, if you feel overwhelmed with
painful memories and think that nobody cares about you or
will ever love you again, remember:
- that God so loves you so much that He gave His one and
only son, Jesus, who gave His very life on a lonely cross
just for you.
- that nothing — not even divorce — can
separate you from this love gift that cost so much.
this gift of salvation “... comes with an eternal,
unchanging, non-negotiable, non-refundable guarantee,” as
Judy in Canada says on page 117 of Dare to Trust.
tips for the heart
- Throw your own party (or potluck dinner) by inviting
others who may not have a place to go on the holidays,
such as other
single-parents, widows, or elderly neighbors. Exchange
memories and milestones, both happy and sad, good and bad.
finances are tight, brainstorm gift alternatives such as
volunteering to clean a family member’s room,
babysit a friend’s child, walk a co-workers’s
dog, or weed a parent’s flowerbed.
- Eat healthy and
get enough sleep the week before so you can deal with the
- Counter mood swings by expecting them
and realizing that perfect situations happen only in
Thomas Kinkade paintings
and perfect families appear only in Norman Rockwell paintings.
- Toss out that Christmas wreath like Dawn did, especially
if the treasures and trinkets of the past are weighted
with heavy memories. You’ll discover not only more room
in the back of your closet but more space in your heart to
embrace something different or new.
A new year begins only because an old year ends.
Promise You Can Trust
life, so that you and your children may live ...
Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV
In the Meantime
Please feel free
to suggest topics for the
and share your story. Write Kari at Garden Glories, P. O.
Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588 or Clicking Here.
DivorceWise Newsletter also available online at www.gardenglories.com.
Archived issues available upon request.