I live in the Mid-Atlantic States. This area was settled early in America’s history and there are remnants of the old lifestyle all around. Now and then I come across a white marble block, about 8” square and 1’ or 1.5’ high, on a street corner. This block has a number at the top of each face and a word or two. It is a milestone, a marker telling the traveler how much farther it is to the city ahead. Since we have cars with odometers and maps and GPS devices, we hardly need a milestone anymore but I’m sure they were useful to people long ago on horseback or in carriages. There are other kinds of milestones too, some of which may impact your grief. Tomorrow in my neighborhood is the first day of school for a new year. That’s a milestone. Although your child who died is not going back to school, the day is still a milestone because your child would be going back to school and because your child’s friends are going back to school.
This is the beginning of the fall season. There are many other milestones during the next few months. I have known some parents who just dreaded the milestone-rich fall. Besides school, there are change of weather, the smell of the fresh fall air, football season, Halloween and “the holidays.” In your family it might be the World Series rather than football; it might be harvest; or closing down the pool. But for each of you there will be several milestone events that highlight the absence of your child.
There is another kind of milestone too, the things you won’t be doing since your child’s death. I know one mom whose son died when he was 9 years old, who experienced a milestone moment when his friends and contemporaries were getting their driver’s licenses at age 16!
Milestones measure distance. They measure the distance you have traveled on your grief journey and they measure the distance yet to travel. Maybe your feeling are a little less acute this year compared to last. Then you are moving ahead. Does it seem like he was here yesterday but, at the same time, it feels like forever since he left? You are moving ahead. You can probably count how many World Series he has missed. But, friend, know that you are getting closer to your destination too. You are getting closer with each passing season to that time when you can rest in Jesus’ presence and ask all your questions and get all your answers, or realize that none of the questions or answers is more important than resting in that presence.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, …
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14.