I could see Stone Mountain covered in snow from a distance today. It is a sight I have never seen in my almost 31 years as an Atlanta native.
Folks have been so respectful about not mentioning Stone Mountain around me. And I am grateful. I still find it hard to tell my story to those who don't know what happened to my Tony. By the look on their faces, it is also hard to hear.
I was in a holding area at the Stone Mountain Park Police station when I was told the news about Tony. Shortly after, I walked outside and I immediately shielded my eyes from the granite mountain towering before me. This landmark of my hometown, my Atlanta, was no longer a welcome sight.
I rode away from the mountain that day, resolved I would never go back. I was even entertaining crazy thoughts about having to move from Atlanta because the mountain could be seen from everywhere.
Turns out, I had to face it much sooner that I wanted. The funeral home ended up being right at its foot, with a clear shot of the top of Stone Mountain. I was sick to my stomach when I realized we were so close to it, after we had made the final arrangements. It was too late to change.
And God saw my pain.
The day of Tony's memorial service, there was a cloud covering the entire mountain as I arrived with my family. It could not been seen, not even a faint hint through the dense fog. I was so relieved.
After what was an amazing, God-inspired memorial to my husband, I walked outside to see the sun shining. I intentionally looked back up at the mountain again as we were driving away; it was now in clear sight. I turned to my mom and said, "The mountain doesn't haunt me anymore."
As my step-father-in-law so eloquently reminded us during the memorial, Tony loved Stone Mountain. It would pain him to know it brought such horrible memories to mind.
Still, I may never go back there. But it is impossible not to see it from afar as it towers the horizon of my city. I see it almost every time I drive down I-85 from my parents house to Atlanta.
Some days I gaze upon it and smile as I think of Tony. Some days I look on it in confusion and despair. Some days the Lord knows I just cannot stand seeing it, so it is hidden behind the clouds. Some days it shines forth with reds and oranges from the sunrise or sunset; other days it is gloomy, dark and gray.
Regardless, it is always there.
I will never forget it.
Yet, my prayer over time is that it spurs inside of me bold moments of faith and hope, instead of harsh memories of tears and utter helplessness.
Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 17:20, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Lord Jesus, I know Stone Mountain cannot physically move, though some days I wish it would. Instead, I pray you use it to remind me that nothing, NOTHING, is impossible through faith in You. I leave this mountain and how You use it in my life in Your capable hands. Amen.
Dearly loved, Atlantan,