I hadn’t realized I had been in search of my smile. Not the smile I show to the world, my smile. The one that tells me I’m happy and joyful. Finding my smile again has been a long and gradual process. Without thinking, I find myself observing small things that are right in front of me; the vivid orange-colored tulips I bought to brighten my space, the howling of the wind in the trees, the flickering shadows of the trees that sway and dance around the walls of my bedroom at night, comforting and inviting me to see the magic I had thus far too grief-stricken to see. I was doing laundry and humming and although I was rusty, melody and music moved through my soul imploring me to put on music and dance. So I did. Happiness snuck through the window while I was waving goodbye to grief as it left through the back door.
Now I am sitting at my desk, and I am reminded that grief is a season, a long, painful, terrifying, dark, and foreboding season. Beauty, art, music, laughter, pleasure, and joy fade into the inky darkness of silence. Thank God, in time the sadness, horror and sorrow cease its daily onslaught on my broken spirit and the steady beat of my heart is the metronome steadily guiding me through the desolate, murky, and perilous forest. Loss has changed me, scarred, rebuilt, and transformed me. I no longer resent or resist the unrelenting pain that dogged me like a second skin. I finally turned around and faced it and although I haven’t entirely learned all the lessons yet, I find beauty in the depth and breadth of redemption, grace and in the inevitable rebirth of new seasons and new beginnings. I can look back now and see that I have traveled a long way through dusty, uneven, unforseen terrain that buckled my knees, broke my heart, and seared my soul, but I still made it back to the light and home to the people I love most in the world.
I’m happy to say goodbye to 2018. It was a year of hard learned lessons. Some I suppose I should have learned a long ago and some I’ve struggled to accept despite all the evidence. In the end denial could only take me so far. Resistance is futile.
I have learned about pain so deep that it sunk into the marrow of my bones and settled into the fiber of my being. For me, grief is a solitary, isolating sorrow. A muted sense of melancholy that enveloped, cocooned, and finally consumed me this year. I couldn’t seem to shake it and finally succumbed to the pain, heartache and loss. In the end, that was my saving grace, acquiescence. The only way out was through the labyrinth of sorrow. I felt tired, weary, my spirit ragged and exhausted. Unexpectedly there was a stirring, a slight shift in the air. Which was slowly replaced with a thin veil of hope. A stripping away of the grief. Like a string of lights, each igniting the next light and so on until a path was finally illuminated. A way out.
Now it is time to unwrap myself from the silken tentacles of grief and begin to live fully again. So adieu, 2018. It was a rough and tumble ride. I’m grateful for the lessons along the way but sadness is heavy. It weighted me down and the only way back to the surface was to accept what could not be changed. Life isn’t meant to be lived in the shallow end.
Welcome 2019! The road was dark and deep but I have promises to keep. Pardon me, I think I see joy ahead.
The summer flew by melting everything in its path and scorching the green ground beneath us. While September dawned, the acrid heat of summer lingered and fall snuck surreptitiously in the back door. The air is autumn crisp and it crackles with seasonal suspense. The winter is coming but first a display of the magnificence blazing colored leaves, dotting the horizon, a feast for the senses and artists alike. There are roads to be explored and adventures to be had around each corner.
And so this summer began with my oldest son getting his driving permit. We practiced daily and for any reason, “out of bread? need air in the tires?”. It was disconcerting to find myself getting in to the passenger seat, watching my son navigate the roads with ease, and confidence, (it’s the confidence that scares me), and having no control. My youngest, urgently sensing the unforeseen benefits of his own looming freedom, suddenly became more interested in the mechanics and responsibilities of driving.
The sands of time had fallen one granule at a time and I found myself in the role of the wise (I’m going to leave the word “old” out for obvious reasons) sage. I sat transfixed, listening to my sons talk, unprompted, about their school, friends, hopes and dreams. If we had we been sitting at home, in our usual routines, I might have gotten a few grunts between bites of food, perhaps a head nod or two. But here in this magic car, in our own cocoon, seeking out unknown routes and looking for adventure, and most of all new places to eat, we were having conversations. We rode in comfortable silence, or debated philosophy, politics, religion, and relaxed while the countryside and it’s farm stands flew by.
In these quiet moments of concentration, watching my sons driving, becoming young men, I sat back in silent gratitude and soaked in every moment. I prayed I would always remember this hot, hazy summer of their budding independence and hopeful dreams. The future, once far away, and out of reach seemed impossibly close, as if it was just around the next corner. I’ll cherish the memories of the smell of the freshly mowed grass as we drove by. Or the sticky ice cream cones that melted in their hands and made the two of them laugh like little boys. There were unexpected water fights, the ever-present eye rolls, non-stop suggestions, and the awkward hugs that feel more like small body slams by Olympic wrestlers wrapped in Axe body spray, than a soft place to land.
The picture doesn’t look how I imagined it one year ago but I do think my aunt would be pleased. I’m still looking forward to aimless magical rides throughout the seasons, on roads I have never been, looking for new adventures only now it’s with my sons. I have come full circle. No words necessary. No destination required.
A sure sign that healing takes its own sweet time but when it’s time to start blooming again the colors are deeper, richer, and more vibrant. Life resumes, sounds float effortlessly into my consciousness and my senses slowly return. The tear in my heart has been re-stitched and the tapestry that is me, moves to incorporate this fissure and make it part of the mosaic that is my life. I am not whole but I am no longer ripped asunder. Grace has arrived.