It has been ages since I’ve written in this blog. Months.
Part of me feels bad because I want to document this process of grief that started…well, the grief started long before Luna, but my documentation started with Luna. But what I’ve discovered is that grief is forever.
The way that my grief makes itself known is different now than it used to be, but it’s still there. It’s a little monster that sits in my chest and waits until small tiny little nothings appear (like the perfect bite of pinto beans and cornbread or a Wonder Woman sweater that’s not my size) before it attacks and causes fresh pain all over again.
It will be six years in December since Jake died of his heart attack and I still pause before cleaning out his bathroom because I remember how I felt the first time I cleaned it after he died. We found him on that floor. He died in that room. And the feeling I get is not disgust or sadness, it’s fear that I’m erasing evidence of his presence in that room. Fear that I’m removing him from the space. I still make my family call his room HIS room. Not the spare room. Not the blue room. Jake’s room. Uncle Bubba’s room. Because he existed. He filled that space and to call it anything else ignores that…..doesn’t it? (Forget the fact that my son, Bo, is like a mini-Jake in his interests and habits and personality. Case and point: he is currently working on a book of mythical creatures, now that he has finished his instruction manual for building a dragon robot. I totally blame Jake for that one.)
Four years ago this month, we found out about Luna’s Turners Syndrome and started the whole medical rigmarole of appointments and ultrasounds and echocardiograms two and three times a week. There are certain smells and sounds that I associate with that time in my life – medical tape, the rubber tubing of a stethoscope, the sound of velcro like a blood pressure cuff, the ppppbbbbbt sound of squirting gel out of a bottle. It’s silly but every time someone squirts stuff out of a plastic bottle (ketchup, mustard, hair gel), it reminds me of the ultrasound where we found out Luna’s heart was no longer beating.
That means it has been almost four years without Jen. I see so much of Jen in her sons that I miss her almost constantly. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could call her and talk to her. Even to this day, I still forget sometimes that I can’t call her up. Someone gave me some sad news this morning and my first reaction was to pick up my phone and call a dead woman! The saddest part of this for me is that I find myself holding in a lot because she isn’t around to talk to. That woman was so easy to talk to that I could vent about her TO her! I have a collection of stories that I’m saving for her one day. Maybe I should write them down.
And my dad. Oh, Daddy. I don’t even know where to start with my daddy. I’m still not sure how I’m functioning without having hugged that man in almost three years. I’m not ready to get in to that.
BUT, my point is that grief doesn’t ever go away. It doesn’t stop. Once you’ve experienced it, grief will always be a part of you. Those of you grieving now? Don’t wait for it to go away. Don’t expect to “get over it.” Don’t think there is something wrong if it still hurts after all this time.
It changes you forever. FOR.EV.ER. (How many of you said that like the kid from the movie Sandlot?)
But don’t let it change you for the worst.
Yes, I am sad more often now than I was. But my happy is more happy than it’s ever been. My joy is amplified to degrees that it never could have if I wasn’t given the opportunity to see and appreciate what God has given me.
I miss Jake and Luna and Jen and Dad. I have these great big gaping holes in my life that cannot be filled up with anything or anyone else. But I also have these amazing people in my life that love me and need me. My family. My friends. My students. My coworkers.
Thank you God, for teaching me to love with more of my heart. Thank you, God for showing me how to minister to my family, friends and students in ways I never could before. Thank you, God for giving me the opportunity to help those who hurt. Thank you, God, for making me more like you. Continue to work in me, Lord.
Thank you, my loved ones, for loving me back.
Isn’t that what makes us grieve in the first place? Our love? What I mean is that I wouldn’t be sad about any of them if I didn’t love them in the first place. I wouldn’t miss them if I didn’t love them. I wouldn’t be upset if I wasn’t blessed by having them in my life in the first place.
Grief is forever. But so is God. And God is love.