This past year, 2021, it came a little later. Later than in 2020, and I suspect it will happen even later this year, but don’t hold me to that.
We took a winter walk one year. The four of us, down our hill, stomping around on what we thought was thick, solid ice. It had been so cold for so long, it had to be frozen solid. Even though the sun was coming back out more and the bitterness of the cold air was subsiding, surely the ice was still solid. And yet, there I was, watching as Grace’s leg broke through the ice and she started to sink. Just a small sliver in the ice, that’s all it took. It’s impossible to see what’s just below the surface, isn’t it?
My foundation seems much more solid these days. I don’t wake up every morning in tears. I don’t wish that I didn’t wake up. I don’t have nightmares that mask themselves as beautiful dreams of her lovely face, but as I reach to hold her, I awaken to my dark room, my dark reality. I don’t fear that my grief will be more than I can handle. I don’t force empty smiles.
I am ok. I am surviving. And dare I say it, I am thriving. But even in the midst of that, small slivers creep in, just under the surface, making my foundation less than solid and unbeknownst to me, it gives way. Like I said though, this year was at the end of November, just before Thanksgiving, later than the beginning of November. Improvement.
It’s not like I ever forget. I know my life. I know my thoughts. I know who I am. A mother of three beautiful children…one that still lives, the other two who have sat with Jesus and looked upon His face. I know that I live with trauma that springs to the surface at various times, in various ways. I know that trauma can make a person say and react to things differently than everyone else. It’s who I am and I am prepared to be that person for the rest of my life.
When it gives way though and I find myself sinking into the cold, frigid waters of grief, I have learned to lean into it. I know that it will usually last (at least the winter fall outs) into February sometime, and as quickly as the snow melts on a sunny day, life will emerge. What does it mean to lean in? I don’t fight back my tears. I listen to songs that minister to my hurt. I pray even more for those around me that are suffering. I seek to help someone who is struggling.
One week from now, we will be moving into yet another year living without our Gracie girl. I’m sitting here trying to count the days, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? The numbers don’t matter anymore, the grief is here and it won’t leave, it will forever be with us. However, her smile, her love and her joy is here too, forever with us.