The Day Before…

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“He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4

Labor day signifies so many things.  The end of summer.  The beginning of fall.  The start of the new school year.  The end of a love story.
Labor Day is actually  a public holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September.  It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.
We all have our definitions of Labor Day.  What it means to each individual is different.  For me, Labor Day will always be the day before…
It’s the day before my nephew Cody died.  Cody wasn’t just my nephew, he was like a son to me.  It’s hard to put into words how precious our relationship was, and in my mind still is.  I never had children. He and his sister Casey are the closest to children I ever had, and probably ever will have.  I’m grateful their Mom was so open in sharing them with me.
Cody was 20 years old when he died.  Just months from his 21st birthday.  Trying to put into words a relationship that was as special as ours, which spanned that amount of time seems impossible.  There were weekend sleepovers, vacations, afternoons at the movies.  There were so many trips…D.C., Florida, Pennsylvania to name a few.  There were quiet afternoons at home.  There were trips to the beach, to the pool, to Water Country.  There was trick or treating and school trips.  Thanksgiving’s and Christmas’s.  Every moment was special.
Cody, and his sister, made me a better person.  They made me want to be a better person for them.  I loved spending time with them.  I didn’t get married until after I was 40 years old.  I joke it was because of them, but in every joke you will find truth.  I preferred their company over anyone else.  Especially when they were young, and dependent on you.  Those were the best weekends, best vacations.
As they got older, it was harder.  They didn’t want to spend as much time with Aunt Beth.  It was understandable, but it still hurt.  By the time Cody died, I hadn’t seen him in months.  We had talked and texted, but I hadn’t physically seen him.  The last time I did see him was at my Mom’s funeral.  It was as I was leaving.  He stood up and gave me the biggest, longest hug.  As I look back on it now, it’s as if he knew that would be the last time.  That hug would have to last me until we meet again in heaven.
Cody was diabetic.  It was his diabetes that won the battle three years ago on Sept. 2.  The day after Labor Day, the day before my world changed forever.  It was a hard fought battle, in so many ways, but in the end, the disease prevailed.
The day before was much like today.  I’m in the same place I was then.  The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze and I was with my husband.  We had had a wonderful weekend camping. I remember feeling sad when the weekend was over, not wanting to go back to our normal lives.  I had no idea what was in store for me.
It was around 3:00 p.m. the next day when my brother called me.  I can still hear his voice telling me, “Cody is dead.”  I hear it often in my mind.  Almost like a reminder that he really is gone.
A lot has changed in the past three years.  A lot of it Cody would be thrilled with beyond words.  Things he wanted to see happen in his lifetime, which didn’t happen until he was gone.
Ironically, he is still making me a better person.  I think of the wonderful person he was.  I think of how he loved me so purely.  I try to be worthy of that love.  Cody wasn’t perfect, no one is, but he was real.  He was genuine.  He was good.
One thing though has not changed, my heart is still broken.  My love for him is stronger than ever.  And Labor Day will always be the day before my life changed forever.  It will always be the day before I lost Cody.
Psalm 91:4 is the verse that represents Cody to his Mom and sister.  Every time they find a feather they think of him.  It has come to represent Cody to us.  A reminder he is with God.  He is with his grandma.  One day we will be reunited again.  Until then, however, I still have work to do here on earth.  For now, I hold onto our last hug, grateful it was so memorable, knowing he knew how much I loved him.
It is true, live at peace with everyone to the best of your ability.  None of us know how long we have.  None of us know when we’ll have a “day before”.

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