Longing for January 17

Posted by Danny

Church was really hard this morning.  Actually, church is always hard.  The hymns get stuck in my throat.  A verse that is comforting strikes a chord.  One that seems so simple but isn’t, one of those “don’t worry about lifers”, strikes a nerve. 

I left mid service and had the perfect place to compose myself.  Lisa’s ashes sit in the columbarium across the parking lot from our sanctuary.  We walk through the neatly kept brick walkway each Sunday – and usually run our hand across the engraving that bears her name.

Sometimes she feels so near.  But sometimes so far, far away.

Today I sat on the bench directly across from her granite nameplate.  It was chilly but the sun beamed a warmth on my face.  My mind was stuck on Halloween and the impending holidays to follow.  Our 18th wedding anniversary would have been November 20th followed quickly by Thanksgiving, Christmas and stinkin’ New Years.

It’s Halloween for crying out loud!  It’s not a very meaningful holiday.  I think the last time I dressed up, I was a flasher.   How can that bring a grown man to tears?

I long for January 17.  To my knowledge, nothing special happens on that day.

Maybe what I hear is correct – some parts of the second year are harder.  Last holiday season was planned out to the minute.  I knew exactly what we’d be doing from 5 pm on Halloween through January 3rd.  No minute was left to chance.  I lined up family and friends and out-of-town jaunts to make it through without falling apart.  This year, the calendar is too open, and right now I’m unmotivated to fill it.

Maybe it’s good.  Maybe slugging it out without running in fifteen different directions will help us move closer to healing.  Or, maybe it’s just always going to be hard. 

All I know is that for the past 24 hours I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus. 

Damn grief.  It’s won again.

Leave a comment


  1. April

     /  October 31, 2011

    Grief didn’t win – you did – you took another long step in the process. Will be thinking you as you “slug” on.

  2. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read your post. Thinking of you and praying for your family during this holiday season – until January 17th arrives…

  3. Wrapping a warm hug around you right now. We love you so much, Shelly, Lucy, Gina and Amy

  4. I couldn’t agree with April more. You are healing, even when it hardly feels like it.

  5. I heard this beautiful quote again last weekend at a funeral for my friend’s husband who also died of cancer. It made me think of you and Lisa…

    Love never disappears for death is a non-event.
    I have merely retired to the room next door.
    You and I are the same; what we were for each other, we still are.
    Speak to me as you always have, do not use a different tone, do not be sad.
    Continue to laugh at what made us laugh.
    Smile and think of me.
    Life means what it has always meant.
    The link is not severed.
    Why should I be out of your soul if I am out of your sight?
    I will wait for you, I am not here, but just on the other side of this path.
    You see, all is well.
    –St. Augustine

  6. Wren

     /  October 31, 2011

    Dearest Bruce ~ I feel your pain & sorrow. I know it, and it’s brutal. You are not alone. While you are anticipating 11/20, I’m thinking about (and have been all year) about 11/22 ~ what would have been Sarah’s 13th birthday. I will not get to see her get her ears pierced this year, I will never dress her for a dance, we will never get our toes painted together, we never attend a mother / daughter tea, never plan her wedding… even 13 years after her death, I share that the pain of her untimely death like Lisa’s untimely death and the subsequent grief, sadness and depravation of loss never leaves you… Your response to your loss typically changes & as you evolve as a person and man of faith ~ and as the years roll along ~ while your loss will never leave you, your heart, body and soul grows & adjusts. I pray that through your faith that you will make it through 11/20 & the holidays. I firmly believe that you have the capacity & strength to endure this season & trust that God will sustain you ~ even in the quiet and slow times and days. And I hope that when 1/17 arrives that you will feel a sense of peace, grace & love that surpasses all understanding. You are never alone & you have an army of loved ones lifting you up & praying for your family ~ try to lean on your faith in Jesus ~ and trust that He alone will give you what you need. All our hope, love & prayers to you & your beautiful family. The Rehms

  7. Helen LaVere

     /  October 31, 2011

    Your strength is amazing, even on the days when you feel you have none. Lean on the Lord and all of the angels he has sent to help hold you up – family, friends old and new, those you have not met who you help by sharing your thoughts and feelings and your faith. Our love and prayers are with each of you every day.

  8. Lee-Ashley Bonfield

     /  November 3, 2011

    Hang in there. I saw you playing with your girls at the STS Halloween carnival but did not get a chance to speak given the mayhem.

    You are all truly an inspiration!


  9. Pam D.

     /  February 21, 2012

    I, too, know those days when it feels like grief has won. It’s been 10 months and it is still so difficult. I have to rely on grace, hope and faith in knowing that I will see him again. It still doesn’t make it any easier.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  February 22, 2012


      This anniversary is easier than the last – next year should be too.

      Stay strong.


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