Today, I’m linking up at Chatting at the Sky where at the end of every month, we share what we’ve learned that month.

I’m going to be completely real here and say this has been one of the hardest months of my life. I wish I could list some fun things, but this is probably going to be a fairly heavy post. Sorry about that!

But I do hope that in sharing, maybe you’ll feel a little less alone if your July was kind of tough.

learned July 2

1. Knowing you need to let your kids go is easy to say, but not as easy to do. My oldest son turned 17 the last week of July – July 29th to be exact – and he will be a senior this coming year. He also went away to camp for the first time (he had never really wanted to before), and he didn’t just go away. He went 20 HOURS away to Daytona Beach for a Christian conference with his youth group. I’m normally pretty laid back as far as worrying, but I have to be honest, that drive made me VERY nervous. I was never so glad to see someone as when my oldest came through my front door! I’m not sure what I’m going to do when he goes after college. For now, I’m in denial about all that! 😉

2. On the same note, kids bloom on their own time table. My oldest is kind of quiet and reserved. I was always worried that he didn’t have enough of a social life. This summer, all that has changed. I’m not sure if it is because he can drive now or if it is because he has suddenly discovered girls or what, but now, he’s flitting around with friends all the time. I’m glad – it’s great to have a group of friends – but I’m also sad because, well, we’ve entered a new chapter. Oddly, my younger son went through this much earlier. He has been a social butterfly all through junior high and I don’t really see that changing.

3. My parents and my in-laws are getting older. I know – duh right? But seriously, in my mind, my parents are somewhere in their 50s. But recent events have driven home the reality that my parents and my in-laws are now officially elderly. My dad has cancer and went through a rough patch this spring. He is doing MUCH better now, but his pace is a little slower. This month, my mother-in-law had a stroke. She’s is also (thank you, Lord!) doing well and it could have been much worse. But it just really drove home to me that as my husband’s and my parents age, we need to remember to take time NOW because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

4. A phone call can change your life. On July 30, almost the last day of this month, I got a phone call that completely changed my life. My mother called to say they had news of my brother. See, my brother had gone missing in mid-June sometime. When my husband and I got to my parent’s house, they shared the devastating news that my brother’s body had been found, and he had taken his own life. It’s what I had feared, but you know, you just don’t think that stuff will happen to YOUR family. Tomorrow is my brother’s memorial service.

5. This brings me to the fifth thing I learned this month – don’t put off making that phone call or visiting that person because you don’t know if there actually will be that opportunity later. I know I wish I had called or visited my brother more. I wish I had seen one last time. Now that opportunity is gone. I won’t ever get another chance to pick up the phone or drive across town to see my brother.

6. Even if you don’t know what to say or do, reach out anyway. One thing I have learned in the past few days is that it is beyond comforting to have people reach out to you when you are in pain. I tend to be a private processor. When I fall apart, I like to do it alone; so when other people have gone through a painful time, I’ve sent cards and emails, but generally give them space, thinking they need that privacy. My brother’s death has shown me that I may not have gotten that right. The phone calls I got from tentative friends who weren’t sure what to say in the face of the unimaginable were a great source of comfort to me. I will remember in the future when my friends go through their own grief.

7. Grief is a strange and weird thing. It has been five days since I got that phone call that rocked my world, and sometimes I think I am doing okay. Other times, I can barely stand under the heavy waves of grief that wash over me. I find myself crying over the weirdest things in the strangest places – like in the grocery store while buying a gift card. I suppose the rest of journey of grief will be equally odd.

I know my list of what I learned isn’t exactly upbeat, but this hasn’t been the easiest month. I guess I should add a #8 to my list. Through the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, God has shown Himself in big and small ways to be faithful. He has protected us. He has sent unexpected people to comfort us in our sadness. He has given us multitudes of small graces that make bearable what should be unbearable.

What did you learn in July? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

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