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Tomorrow will be March 29. Again, we face another year without seeing who Wes and Andy would have become. I often look at pictures of them and I am thankful that we took so many, even in the days before digital photography. And Blaine bought a scanner several years ago so I can easily pull any one of thousands of them within seconds into view on my phone. But there is an abrupt end to the pictures; there was an abrupt end to my sons’ lives. The last one of my sons made together was on December 29, 2001. It is one of my most treasured photos. No, they are all treasures. I can’t stand to think of the day when Hope will have to “deal” with the printed ones.

But that is another day.

Today, my emotional state is readying itself for tomorrow: the 16th anniversary of their deaths. SIXTEEN YEARS?! It is astounding.

Who would have guessed that 16 years later this former family of four would have become a newly constructed family of three? It astounds me. Lots does.

It astounds me that I have come through this tragedy with sanity.

It astounds me that Blaine and I were able to stay married. The odds for a couple losing even one child are against that.

It astounds me that we have forgiven Wesley Shoaf.

It astounds me that we made the decision to adopt a child just 2 ½ years after the accident.

It astounds me that we followed through with the decision to adopt a child at “our age.”

It astounds me that a 9 month old baby girl was placed in our arms in China on July 23, 2006.

It astounds me that we moved away from Winston-Salem for 5 years and were happy in China Grove.

It astounds me that we came back home.

It astounds me that Blaine was able to retire at 58 years old.

It astounds me that I haven’t divorced him since he retired. (It’s a year later. We’re good now.)

It astounds me that a twelve-year-old tween girl is harder to raise than two boys at that age. (I lie. Being a parent IS the hardest job on the planet, no matter the gender.)

It astounds me that Hope becomes more amazing every day, even as a snarky tween. Observing her as she grows into her quick-witted, hilarious self and watching her creative side decorate cakes and create hairstyles with ease confirms that SHE was meant to be our daughter.

It astounds me that I still have lots to learn as a parent. And as a wife. Especially with a retired husband.

It astounds me that I’m 60! I have been since December. I don’t think I’ll get over that. Ever. I guess I’d better.

In all of these astounding aspects of my life, there is one more. I believe it’s the One Thing that has made all of the following possible. I know it is.

It is my faith. God has carried me through all of these. He is the Astounding One. And I know that He will continue to astound me.

Tomorrow we will be driving to the “happiest place on earth” (in Orlando) on the saddest anniversary of our lives. We will have a very long day to reflect on our boys. We will share with Hope some (and some not so) astounding stories of their lives. And then on Friday, we will do as we have for many years now. We will move on; we will have absorbed the brunt of March 29, 2002 one more time, yet never forgetting our astounding sons.

And, on the same day, Hope will be with one of her Chinese sisters (from our travel group) riding Soarin’ and Space Mountain and an assorted host of other “astounding” rides.

When I have lived this astounding life to its end, I pray that Hope is grown and knows that, even with the good and the bad, God is the Most Astounding.

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