The notation for today's date on my mother's calendar speaks volumes without a word. In the box that surrounds Jan. 20, there is a simple, yet poignant drawing of a frowning face.
It's as if the words were somehow too painful to write, and the drawing quietly explains the feelings of my family and friends.
Today is a sad day.
Today means one year has passed since I was able to see, talk to and hug my wonderful 16-year-old cousin, Christen Renfro.
In the year since her passing from an accident on Highway 150 as she traveled to school, our family has -- out of necessity -- grown closer. Her friends and relatives have developed into a single family that continuously pays tribute to her Godly life.
People have asked questions about the God she knew and loved, and many have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ because of her witness through life and death.
Those are some of the positives that have resulted from this tragedy. But her loved ones thought living with the loss would get easier as time moved on. After one year, that hasn't been the case.
Through her November birthday and the holidays, we all struggled to swallow that lump in our throats because she wasn't there with us, where we thought she should be. And recently as the events elapsed when we saw her last, wounds were reopened, and we mourned anew.
Today is different. Today is a milestone that we all would have much preferred not to achieve -- surviving our beloved friend, cousin, niece, sister, daughter and even granddaughter for a full year.
For me, today marks the beginning of a new round of yearly activities where I won't be able to enjoy the laugh of a girl I truly called my sister. Every Jan. 20 thereafter will do the same.
Yes, today is a sad day indeed. But my hope is that our suffering will have been for a purpose, that God will continue to bring people to Himself through the death of one of his saints.
It has been a difficult year, but despite the misery of loss, grace and peace have always been supplied. I get mine from scripture.
Isaiah 57:1-2 says: "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death" (New International Version).
I pray that Christen's family and friends will find peace in knowing she was spared from this evil world and that we will see her again some day.
And that day will be ripe for a smiley face on each of our calendars.