Julie B Jacobsen
A Day That Lives On
I am not a math person though I did marry one and gave birth to another. Numbers just don’t seem to stick with me. For example, I am forever confusing my mother’s birthday (December 4th) with Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th). It’s no wonder then that it took the bulk of my adult life to make another significant date connection. Despite my numerical handicap, I lay in bed last night, equating some new perspective:
77 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and that day became known as the “Day of Infamy.”
44 years later, in the summer of 1985, I visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial with my family.
4 years from that point, I walked into an office building at Cedar Sinai Medical Center and had an abortion.
29 years ago (following that abortion) I wanted to kill myself. Instead, I talked to God. I now refer to that day as “My Last Day of Devastation.”
Anniversaries are strange things, nuisances, really. No matter how much I ponder in advance how best to commemorate them, the stupid things always seem to sneak up on me - even the one that apparently coincides with a major historical event (I can’t believe it took me 29 years to make a Pearl Harbor connection). Actually, I have two dark days that haunt my history this time of the year. And though I can’t tell you the exact date of my first December abortion, I can tell you the year: 1986. That was 32 years ago for those of you doing the math.
That’s when the seasonal “funk” first began. When the rest of the world started decking their halls and ringing in cheer, I was resisting the urge to dig a hole to bury myself in. Like an offended spouse giving you the cold shoulder and for the life of you, you don’t know why, something inside of me soured. For years, I struggled against a darkness that hit me every December, and for no discernible reason (so far as I could tell). It wasn’t until the spring of 1990 that I would learn about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That was a light-bulb moment. The funk had a name, and it was “Anniversary.”
77 years ago, an enemy came to kill Americans, to steal our military strength, and to destroy our naval fleet. It was a bold attack with devastating results, but it also had an effect I’m not sure the Japanese expected. America entered the war and young men across our country volunteered in droves to join the fight. Spoiler alert: we won.
44 years later, I stood over the sunken hull of the Arizona marveling at the tiny streaks of oil still emanating from its carcass. Squinting through clear Hawaiian waters at that ship turned coffin, it was hard to imagine the scale of loss it contained. More than 1,000 young men remain in the wreckage of that ship. And though I knew none of them, I made a decision that day to never forget.
Now, here I sit in *2018. The 32-year-old funk is back and I struggle to lift myself out of the hole once again. I need to get myself off the couch. I need a shower. I need a salad for goodness’ sake! I knew the anniversary was sometime this month, and for days I thought I would commemorate it by breaking my writer’s block. It was a sentimental plan, I know, but I was determined.
Yet on the morning of December 7th, when I dug out an old journal to confirm the actual date, and when lo and behold it read “December 7th,” I realized I had caught it just in the nick of time. But I still pulled the covers over my head and chose darkness over light. That is, until the morning after when my sweet Jesus woke me up early to ponder the math.
Yes, a dark oil slick of depression still snakes its way to the surface of my life at times. Much like my visit to Pearl Harbor, I sit here today pondering the enemy’s attack, how he wanted me dead, how he stole my strength, and how he destroyed my identity. I also find myself imagining the lives that were lost. How old would each of my babies be had they lived?
I am horrified when I stare at the deep places of my past. It would be easy to jump in and just let myself sink into this darkness. Yet a very real Presence holds me to the light.
Dear Reader, though the darkness still comes and bad feelings are not yet lifted, I have decided to honor my “Last Day of Devastation” by choosing life...again. Let me be clear, it is a choice, and one that is contrary to how I feel, but I stand firm knowing that my God has been faithful, and he will be again.
Yes, what the enemy meant for evil, my God will use for good, so I will fight. It probably wasn’t the effect the enemy was going for, but I will stay the course. I will remain in the battle.
One final spoiler alert: My God has already won!
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12
“... choose for yourselves whom this day you will serve…
but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:15
* Dear Reader, I wrote this last year, before there was a blog. Last year, the funk was thick, but for this year's anniversary, I danced at a wedding with joy in my heart. My point? The funk of depression comes and goes. If you find yourself in a prolonged season of darkness, then please find someone to walk you through it. Light always conquers the dark, but sometimes we need help finding that light-switch. Trust me when I say that you are loved more than you know. Fight that funk!
And as always, I invite you to comment here, or reach out to me privately if you would like to discuss this more.