Chapters

I love to read. I enjoy informational books, biographies, fiction, non-fiction and classics.. At home we have multiple book shelves filled with some of my favorites and on the top shelf are the special ones. The books that I have received from important people in my life, with handwritten words in them. Old books passed down from generation to generation and newer ones with special notes in them.

I love words. I love what deep meaning they can carry. I love that they can be vessels to heal the aching heart or hurting mind.

Words put together create chapters. That is what I’m thinking about today.

Chapters.

When we were young, my mom could often be heard telling us, “life is like a series of chapters. Sometimes a chapter ends, just like a relationship. It’s not always easy, but it’s the way life works.”

I was thinking about chapters ending because I am leaving the job I have had for 14 years. I will leave behind tremendous people to whom I love, but I know it is time to end this chapter.

I wasn’t ready to end the chapter titled “Grace.”

I can already hear some of you saying that her chapter wasn’t ended just because her life was taken, but as much as I understand the heart behind a statement like that, it was an end to that chapter. Her name appears and will continue to appear in every chapter of my life until the story of my life on earth is over, but she will never have her own chapter again. It is a part of accepting my current circumstances, even if I don’t like them.

A couple weeks from now will mark the seven year anniversary of this abrupt ending and it got me thinking about the words I am now extremely familiar with. I thought I would share them and give you my own definitions.

Grief – A force that exists outside of words and is as unique to a person as a fingerprint. A time in a person’s life when emotions can tell them the truth as well as lie, simultaneously. A force that will overtake the daily normalcies and make them seem unattainable. A feeling that things will never be the same and the faster that is accepted, the less motion sick you will be on the train…of grief…that you will never get off of. And a scar, worn by so many, that will never disappear, but will certainly hurt less, over time.

Thrive – The willingness to accept what your life is, and then a determination to grow and blossom in the midst of it. To push through the murkiness, and then live, jump, run, laugh and even flourish.

Faith – Knowing someplace deep, even beyond thoughts and feelings, that you are loved and created for a purpose, by God. That Jesus is the best friend a person could ever ask for and that the Holy Spirit is closer than a deep sigh.

Family – The ones who share your DNA and the ones that don’t. The people whose names are woven into your fabric because God has generously allowed you to be stitched together, to make you strong.

Grace – To the believer: unmerited favor. To me: the undeserving gift of a first-born little girl who changed my life and countless others. Who left a tremendous stamp of beautiful life on everyone she came into contact with. The precious young woman who is sitting (or more accurately, skipping around) with the King of kings, waiting to give her mama some snuggles one day.

Each of these words have their own chapter in my life, actually some of them are more like volumes. However, I have learned to close chapters and start new ones without fear.

The Author of my life has never failed me, and He won’t start now.

Chapters

Entries

A couple months ago, I was approached and offered a great deal of help getting these blog posts put into a book. My aunt said she was willing to take on the task of getting the right people involved to copyright, organize, edit and print these past 55 entries and make them into a book that perhaps can help someone else. The helping someone else is the part that keeps this idea alive in my mind, it’s the part that makes me feel less awful about the possibility of somehow profiting off of so much pain.

Months before the accident, Grace had started writing a book. She had chapters upon chapters typed up on her laptop. (Of course, those of you that knew her well, would not be surprised to know that it was to be an epic romance. She loved the idea of the perfect “Happily Ever After,” believing beyond belief, that one day, her perfect soul mate would arrive and sweep her off her feet). I’m not entirely sure what happened, and in the chaos that followed in the days and months after the accident, it wasn’t even dealt with, but when we finally went to log into her laptop, we realized that something happened and everything had been erased. We brought it to some of the best computer people we knew, hoping to retrieve what she had written, but it was gone.

She was gone. Her writings were gone. Another chapter, another entry, in the precious book of her life, gone.

Whenever I have been told that I should put these writings into a book, there’s been a part of me that figures if she couldn’t than I shouldn’t. I can’t really tell if that’s selfish or protective, but it’s how I often feel.

All leading up to the meeting with my aunt, I had a sick stomach. I asked a few people what they thought, and no one seemed to yell in my face and say that I was being ridiculous for risking this all being put into a book, so I met with her and agreed to move forward. I don’t know when or how or what it will all look like, but you all will be the first to know when it happens 🙂

Grace will be celebrating her 24th birthday this Sunday, and I can’t even imagine what celebrations look like in Heaven! I am sure she is experiencing a different, but much more perfect version of the “Happily Ever After” that she always dreamed of. We won’t be celebrating. We will probably carry on with our normal Sunday routine, trying to ignore the fact that we don’t get to celebrate with her, yet again, this year.

But if she can see me, and theology here gets a little dicey so don’t debate your views with me, I hope she would tell me to go ahead with the book. I hope she would tell me to be strong and move forward and help people, even if it has hurt more than anything could ever hurt a mother’s heart.

And because I can’t give her a birthday present here, and her romance will never be published, I will continue to write, with her as my lead character, and one day a book will be in print that she will have inspired.

Entries

Seeds

I planted my seeds this weekend. An exorbitant amount of tomatoes. I can recall at least 6 different types. Rows and rows of tiny seeds, planted in 1 inch holes, in tiny pockets of soil. I will water them (although not as much as I should, because I tend to forget) and I will give them sunshine (although not as much as they need, because we live in Michigan) and I will talk to them (yes, I am that person) and I will wait. Buried under the care of soil, water, sunshine and encouragement, the seed will grow or it won’t.

The first sign of green that pushes its way through the soil will give me great joy! And I will actually be sad about the many that stay buried, not able to receive the nourishment I give them. I have dug up the soil at times, just to see if I can figure out what went wrong. After all, they each get the same treatment…but some just never push through the dark challenge of growth. They die under the weight of progress.

Do you see the lessons of grief in there? I do. I know, I see the lessons of grief in so many things, but that’s not bad. Grief is the great teacher that none of us want, but when we learn to appreciate its lessons, it teaches us more than almost anything else could.

Grief was initially planted when I was just little, and that first layer of soil covered me. However, I didn’t know any better than to push through, growth was still a strong desire, but then another couple hardships later, and a few more layers of soil added, and I became more hesitant of growth. After all, there is safety in the dark.

And then my dad…and then Grace…

The layers piled on so heavy, there were days I didn’t even want to grow. And to be honest, I didn’t, I haven’t, in some areas. I have stayed in the dark, in the safety of the grief surrounding me. I can look at pictures of Grace and talk about her and hear her name, with very little issue. I can’t watch a video though. I can’t hear her voice. The way she moved and the way she squealed at everything, I can’t do that. I need to keep that seed of grief buried for longer, I guess. In other areas though, I have pushed through the process of growth. I have been fed the water of wisdom by those who have gone through this all before. I have felt the heat of the sun on my face, reminding me that I am alive and can live a full life still.

This is my reminder, to all those grieving, be kind to yourself. The seeds of grief have been scattered over you. You will emerge victorious (albeit completely exhausted) in some areas, and then in others, you might need to stay hidden for a while longer. The goal is to push for growth, though, somewhere, somehow. Believe me, once the sun shines on your face, you will be glad you struggled through.

Seeds