May 24, 2020 was the 1000 day anniversary of our daughter’s death. I recorded a video that day to share some thoughts about the 1000 days since Alex died. The following comes from that video … thoughts about the beautiful life that she lived, our faith in God that has sustained us, and the hope that we have. I pray it is an encouragement to you.
May 24, 2020 … Reflections on 1000 Days
It’s been 1000 days since I last had the opportunity to hug my daughter. 1000 days since I looked into her stunning blue eyes and told her that I love her.
1000 days since we received the worst news of our lives. It’s been 1000 days since I had to call my husband in the middle of the night, when he was on a business trip in Connecticut, and wake him up to tell him that our daughter was dead.
It’s been 1000 days since some very dear friends showed up and spent the whole night with me so I wouldn’t be alone while waiting for James to catch a flight and return home. It’s been 1000 days since those friends comforted me and prayed for me, then when James got home, prayed with both of us, and walked through those first heart-wrenching days with us.
It’s been 1000 days since I had to make all those phone calls to friends and family and deliver this horrible news and deliver pain to their lives, because they loved her, too! I still hear the echo of their anguished cries in my mind.
God is faithful and good
It’s been 1000 days of experiencing the manifest presence of God at a much deeper level than I’ve ever encountered before in my life. It’s been 1000 days of the realization that the Lord is exactly who I always thought He was, who I’ve always known Him to be. He is good and He is faithful. He walks through these horrific experiences with us, holding us close. He never fails us. He never forsakes us.
It’s been 1000 days of knowing that what the enemy meant for our harm, God has used for our good. It’s been 1000 days of being reminded that this was not God’s plan for our daughter’s life. It wasn’t His will for her. It wasn’t her time to go. He doesn’t have a purpose in her death, but He will use what the enemy meant for our destruction and He will bring good from it. I believe He has done that in a million ways.
It’s been 1000 days of resting in peace that truly does pass understanding.
Depression steals and destroys
As human beings, it’s our nature to try to fit things in a box as we try to make sense of them. Some things simply do not make sense, however. This is one of those things. There is no box that this tragedy or heartache fits into.
During the months, weeks, and days leading up to her death, our daughter was making plans to travel and do things with friends. Alex had bought a horse as a weanling, a beautiful buckskin she named Lannister. She was in the process of hiring a trainer for Lanni. And she was seeing a therapist and actively getting help for the anxiety and depression that plagued her.
Alex was planning for life. Unfortunately, in a moment of desperation, caused in part by a brain chemical imbalance compounded by some difficult situations in her life, she acted irrationally. The action she took in that moment of desperation, sadly, can’t be undone.
Jesus Himself is our peace
One evening, shortly after Alex’s death, I called my dear friend Christina, who has a special gift in the area of prayer—specifically in praying the Word of God. I had been surrounded by people who shared encouraging words in the aftermath of Alex’s death, but I needed someone in that moment that would simply pray the Word over me. Unfiltered. No opinions. No platitudes. Just the Word.
We spent about 30 minutes on the phone, Christina speaking the Word over me, praying for me, reminding me what’s true and good and real. I cried a bucket of tears as the Word washed over my weary heart. And there was peace.
After she prayed, I told her, “Christina, it’s been like a physical presence of peace in the house that doesn’t make any sense right now, with this pain so intense I can hardly breathe.” We shared a long, healing laugh together when she replied, “Well, Nancy, it’s Jesus. He is your peace. He is real. He is there with you.” This struck us both as funny because, of course, I know this, but it was a sweet reminder. And the Lord has been with me, bringing peace, every day since. It’s been 1000 days of being assured of the solid foundation on which we stand because we have faith in the Lord. Jesus truly is the anchor of my soul.
Missing our girl
It’s been 1000 days of remembering the nearly 24 years we did have with Alex—all of the special memories, the funny things that happened, the sweet moments we shared, and just who she was as a person. It’s been 1000 days of missed opportunities—moments we don’t get to share with her, new memories we don’t get to create with her.
We’ve gone 1000 days without the kindness and generosity and love that she shared and 1000 days without her wit. She was so funny and so smart and so thoughtful. The zingers that came out of her mouth—even when she was a little girl—always made us laugh and appreciate the sharp mind that she had and what a fun person she was. It’s been 1000 days of growing close as a family. James, Olivia, and I are closer than ever.
Victory over the enemy
It’s been 1000 days of having victory over the enemy. The devil may have won in the instant she took her life, but he didn’t get to keep winning because we know he is defeated. Alex was a believer in Jesus, so we know exactly where she is.
We’re 1000 days closer to being reunited in heaven with our daughter. There’s hope that we will see her again and we know that the devil is defeated. He doesn’t have a foothold in our lives. He doesn’t get to steal my joy and my peace. It’s been 1000 days of walking that out.
Joy and grief can coexist
We’ve experienced 1000 days of understanding that joy and grief can coexist. Throughout the past1000 days—for the most part— grief has been like a ripple, a quiet current in the background. It’s there always in my periphery. And there are times where it’s like a charley horse that comes out of the blue, indescribable pain taking my breath away, not knowing how long until the pain subsides, and aching for awhile afterward. For the most part, though, it’s been a season of resting in God with moments of sharp pain here and there, feeling the feelings, not denying them. I’m not in denial. This did happen.
Alex’s death is part of the story of our family. But it isn’t our daughter’s whole life. It isn’t her whole story. And there’s so much more to who she was than how her life ended. So, it’s been 1000 days of being reminded of all that is good and true and how good God is and how faithful He is. How He hasn’t failed us and He hasn’t forsaken us, and how He is walking alongside us every minute of every day.
Life is worth living
It’s been 1000 days of being reminded that life is worth living, that we are here for a purpose. Alex, I know, would want me to live my life, to love, to serve, and to be a blessing to others. So, I am honoring her by doing just that—living, laughing, loving, and doing things that I enjoy.
It’s been sweet to discover over the past 1000 days that our marriage is better than it’s ever been. I’m so thankful for James that we have walked through this together and that we have done so successfully and faithfully. Many families are torn apart by devastating loss, but we are stronger and closer.
The best sympathy letter of all time
I saw my friend Becky at the homeschool convention one week after Alex died. Becky gave me a hug and whispered something in my ear that made me laugh, then she told me she’s not sending me a card that has magnolias on the cover, which also made me laugh.
A week or so later, I received a card in the mail with a typed note inside from Becky. This is hands down the best sympathy letter I’ve ever seen. It could be a template for how we express care for one another. It’s funny and it’s personal and it’s genuine. This letter has ministered to me so much over the past 1000 days. I keep it on a bulletin board where I read it regularly to be reminded of those truths and how much we’re cared for. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Front of sympathy card
Sympathy card inside
Ok, so I told you that I was not going to send you one of those cards with two magnolias on the front. I’m not sure why anyone thinks sad looking hills and flowers will make heart-broken people feel better. So here is a card about booze. I’m glad that you know me, so you won’t be offended. I am typing this letter because my handwriting is terrible, and what I want to say won’t fit into the booze card.
I wish I could say something really wise, and comforting, and timely. I don’t think such a thing exists in this circumstance. (I’m tempted to plagiarize the wisest, most timely stuff off the internet, but I won’t.) Quite simply, this is horrible. One of the most horrible things that could ever happen to you. I don’t know how you feel. I can’t begin to imagine.
My other dear friend who lost her daughter several years ago calls it, “The worst sorority I’ve ever been a part of.” When people asked her how she kept going, she said, “Every day I just put one foot in front of the other. It seemed to work, so I kept doing it.”
Even the shared experience with other mothers may not help. They didn’t lose Alex. She is yours. Special, beautiful, loved. And now she is being loved by the only One who could ever love her more than you or James.
If it were physically possible, I would carry some of this grief for you if I could. Please know that HEFC up here in the White Mountains is praying for you, and as you learn how to live this new normal, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us up here if we can do ANYTHING to help you. For reals. Use this money for whatever the heck you want. Maybe gin. Maybe Baskin-Robbins. Maybe enough fluffy socks that you can wear a new pair every day for a year. Whatever you want or need.
I think this is the part where I’m supposed to write a scripture. John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” That’s all I’ve got. I’m sure there’s a ton of awesome commentary on this particular verse, but what it says to me is this; He understands your grief. Let Him walk you through it. This deep capacity we have for grief reminds us of the deep capacity we have to love.
HEFC White Mountains
The next 1,000 days … and 1,000 after that
It was a joy to be Alex’s mom for 23 years. It still hurts and it will hurt for the next 1000 days and the 1000 after that, but we look forward to life with purpose and joy. I have purpose in my life and I’m blessed to keep living it. I will keep living for the next 1000 days and a 1000 days after that and 1000 days after that—looking for ways to glorify God, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to bring light and life to others, to enrich the lives of others as I live my daily life.
I pray, as you live your days, if you’ve suffered a great loss or if something happens in the future, that as you continue to turn to the Lord you find His incomprehensible peace and comfort even in the most trying, painful, and difficult times.
He is good. I can’t say that enough. He is good, He is loving. He promises to be our peace and our comfort. He doesn’t leave us without hope and we are never alone.
Below is the video I recorded on May 24, 2020.