In years gone by I used to tell people that “when Leah went away on holidays, our household fell apart“! This was because Leah was so organised. For any planned event or outing, Leah made out a tick list and followed me around the house asking “Mummy have you done this?” Or “Mummy have you got that?”
I too can be a very organised person, or at least I used to be before grief set in. Grief affects my concentration and attention span, but most especially my time management skills – it seems to take me ages to get anything done.
Simon was going to camp early yesterday and there was no chance that he would do his own packing. So my task for Saturday was to pack for Simon going to Faith Mission Camp. A simple task you might think?
Last year before Leah went to Bristol in July, she wrote Simon a list, so that he would know what to take to camp with him in August while we were away.
For the camp Simon is going to I am supposed to send a tub of homemade buns with him to contribute to the catering – Leah usually made those, other than last year when none were sent.
Leah absolutely loved going to camp. When she was of Primary School age she went to the same camp that Simon is now at – Faith Mission Camp in Portadown. Then as she got older she went to C.E.F. (Child Evangelism Fellowship) Camp in Rossnowlagh in Donegal. My older daughter went there too and trained to be a leader. Leah had one weekend in 2012 as a junior leader which she really enjoyed. Her plans for 2013 were to attend “Training Week” in June to do leadership training and then to be a leader at camp in August last year.
However instead Leah was diagnosed in April 2013 and started treatment in July. Leah’s burning ambition was to work with children and young people. She planned to train as a youth counsellor when she left school.
This was Leah’s list that she made for herself when she was going to CEF camp in Rossnowlagh in 2012
Packing for Simon to go to camp on Saturday seemed like a mammoth task. There was my grief at having only one teenager going to a faith based camp this year instead of two. There was my grief at not having one of Leah’s familiar tick lists in front of me. There was my overwhelming grief at the complete absence of Leah’s voice checking up on me.
Thankfully Miriam came and helped me to make the buns for Simon to take with him so that was ok.
What should have only taken a few hours took me the entire day. I’m learning that grief has no shortcuts though. There would have been no benefit to some helpful person coming and doing that task for me – every aspect of our loss has to be grieved, even though the pain at times is awful.
Tonight I’m planning to go to New Horizon in Coleraine. I missed it last year because Leah and I were in Bristol. The last time I went there was when I brought Leah home from having spent the week there in 2012. I clearly remember parking and sitting with Leah in the car outside our house, unable to get a word in edge ways because Leah was so excited about everything that God had done in her life that week.
When Leah was leaving CEF camp in 2012 her dorm leaders gave her a little notebook and wrote this in the front:
Leah then took this notebook to New Horizon in 2012 and wrote six pages of notes – here’s an extract:
I’ve shared this song before but I’m going to share it again because it’s one of many that I regularly come back to:
Sovereign Over Us
By Aaron Keyes, Bryan Brown & Jack Mooring
THERE IS STRENGTH WITHIN THE SORROW
There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, perfect in love
You are sovereign over us