To my surprise, both my wife and I reacted unexpectedly this past Saturday when we dropped off Piper to Camp Barnabas. You see, Piper is a counselor this week with Camp Barnabas. And she has been there for both Sibling Week and more than a few times to drop off and pick up Emma. We are so proud of the woman she is becoming…to use her week of summer camp to be at the beck and call of a special needs camper. That is the sign of an amazing fourteen-year-old.
Yet, it really never occurred to me how many memories would flood both Marie and I during this ages old process of parents dropping off a child for summer camp. On the car ride down we stopped for gas at a station and I saw Emma walking out that same door a few years ago with a grin on her face because she had bought a drink.
As we waited in line to enter the camp I heard Emma telling me all the reasons that Camp Barnabas was such a good idea for people like her; people with disabilities.
As we exited the car and saw so many happy reunions between people who only see each other once a year at camp I saw Emma running in her unique way to hug and scream with a familiar counselor.
I remembered Emma dancing and accepting her award as “Dancing Queen” of the week.
The gift shop.
The medicine check-in.
And on and on and on. Emma was behind every tree, every door…every camper.
Even as I write this I am filled with emotion as a tear slowly works its way down my cheek. Only Marie and God knows how much I miss her.
When people tell you that grief gets better over time I’d like to believe.
However, at least in my experience thus far, grief doesn’t get better. Grief morphs and changes. Grief ebbs and flows. Grief teases and pokes.
But grief doesn’t go away.
Yes, those very same memories that haunt me, in some strange way those very same memories make me smile. Those very same memories keep Emma alive in me. Those very same memories give me purpose to be the best man I am capable of being in service to Him so that one day I can see that grin, for real, just one more time.