I have a confession to make. I haven’t been writing in my blog because I haven’t been feeling like I had anything important or wise to say in my grief. In fact, my father’s death hit me like a ton of bricks, as the cliche goes and I haven’t felt quite the same since.
There was a day this past summer when I was riding in the car with my mom on the way to Lancaster when I noticed something was different. I looked out the window at the beautiful scenery and I didn’t feel sad.
We were on our way to Green Dragon – a huge flea market – and were going to spend the day with many of my extended family members. I brought all four kids, including the newbie that was just weeks old.
The last time I had gone to Green Dragon had been with BOTH of my parents, and I was already preparing for moments where my eyes would fill with tears and I’d have to hold it back. Memories of laughing with my dad and eating with him and walking with him. Wishing he was still with us to buy big jugs of beet red pickled eggs and munch on sausages and pretzels.
But they didn’t come.
Well, the memories did, but the tears didn’t. Not that I wasn’t sad that he wasn’t there to form NEW memories, but I wasn’t sad about the old memories. I was actually happy about the old memories. Happy to have them. Joyful to share them with others. Glad to remember him and those moments with him.
My dad had been dead for over a year at that point and that was the first time I could feel like I was peeking over the mountain that is my grief. It’s almost like every time someone I loved died, the grief was piled higher and higher and it became more and more difficult to pull myself up to the summit so I could see the sun shining on the other side.
And for the past year, I think I’ve been stuck clinging to the edge of my grief by my very fingertips, getting more and more exhausted trying to hold on.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and insomnia. I’ve worried and cried and worried some more about who was going to die next and what I would do if I lost someone else. What if the house catches on fire? What if I drop this baby down the stairs? What if that ache in my stomach is actually cancer? As though being hyper-aware of every possible catastrophe would allow me to be better prepared.
I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve carved a seat in the cushions of my couch that held me for days, wearing the same sweatpants and t-shirt the whole time. I’ve told myself that it doesn’t matter. That I shouldn’t worry because as time goes on, more people are going to die. That’s just a fact of life. People die. I’ve chanted in my head a quote I heard when I was very young: “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.” As though being fatalistic would prevent me from having any hope and therefore keep me from feeling disappointed when someone died.
I was clutching my grief to my heart with all my strength. Holding on so tightly that I couldn’t function in normal life.
But that day in Lancaster, I was lying on a picnic blanket staring up into the sky through the dark green leaves of a summer tree, listening to the tones of the voices of my family around me – not the words. Just the tones. The bright tenor of my Uncle Joe and the warm altos of my aunts Chrissy, T and Mecky. The sharp squeals of small children laughing and playing. The whispered sigh of a Nana holding a new baby while he sleeps.
And I realized my grief was beneath me.
It’s still there. Ever present. Inescapable. I am constantly standing on top of a mountain of grief. But it’s not the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night.
Standing on the summit, I can see the sun. The Son.
And feel hope.
Hope in knowing that life – no matter how hard or sad or complicated – is not about our brief time on this Earth. And that hard times will keep coming, but I have hope that God will refine my heart through them.
That his purpose is greater than what I can see. Maybe even greater than I will ever see. Definitely greater than I am capable of seeing.
So, today, on the third anniversary of Luna’s stillborn delivery – the day we celebrate as her birthday, I ask you to have hope. To remember that God is calling us to lives of difficulty and trial. But to lives that glorify Him. To have hope that life is not actually about this time here. Or about the death that ends this life here.
I went back and read some of the blog posts I wrote when I lost Luna and I wonder who the heck that woman was. I want to meet her. Her words filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. My grandmother quoted one of my blog posts recently, and I didn’t recognize those words as my own words. Like I had lost a bit of myself in my struggle with grief.
But I slowly feel it coming back.
I just have to look up to see the Son through the trees.