June 8th was a normal day until 2010. Five long years ago that sometimes feels like only a few days ago. A few of our family and friends prayed around my grandma’s hospital bed. As I told her that I loved her, she squeezed my hand. This would be her last communication with anyone. A few hours later she slipped peacefully into the arms of her Lord after a brief battle with cancer. She was the woman I wanted to be when I grew up and I still look to her example. Strong, patient, kind and everything good. The glue that held our family together. Always willing to fill a need, even when that meant helping to raise her granddaughter. Even now, there are days when I pick up the phone to share exciting news or ask her advice, forgetting that she won’t answer.
Little did I know that June 8th would strike again just as hard. This time, it was my dad. The dad I never really knew. We met several years ago but the relationship didn’t last long. Birthday text messages and Christmas cards continued through the years, but nothing more. Through that brief relationship I was blessed with several siblings and a large extended family who embraced me like I always belonged to them. Ironically, I was with one of those cousins and her family when I got the news that my dad had passed, also of cancer. That was the day he became the dad I would never really know.
Such different pains but both hurt so deeply. One longing for a relationship that I was able to fully experience and therefore know what I would be missing and the other sadness for a relationship I never really had and now never would experience. Two completely different people who had nothing in common until June 8th.
So today, as tears roll down my face and knots fill my stomach, I hope that people will give me a little extra grace if I snap at them or stare off into space. My head is full before my day even begins. I think back to a lady that our family cared for and her hatred for April 27th (my birthday). To her, it was the worst day of the year because her husband died on that day. And now I understand. I probably have a little more compassion for the cashier who may be grumpy or the waitress who may seem distracted because the day I encounter them may be their June 8th.