I want to talk about it, but I don't want to talk about it. I want someone to remember with me, but I don't want to remind anyone. I want someone to cry with me, but I don't want anyone to be sad. I want what I don't want, and I don't want what I do want. How's that for confusing? Welcome to grief.
I want someone else to know that that was the day that everything changed, and on that day that I literally begged God to not let it happen. It was not His will to not let it happen, and I had to be at peace with that. I had to. I had to let my heart be torn into a million unfixable shattered, jagged pieces and say goodbye to a life I was never going to have, a husband I wasn't going to grow old with, and a marriage that was as perfect as it was imperfect. I had to. I had to walk through a blinding, suffocating black fog of pain and put into practice submission to the will of God in a way that I never really wanted to, but I had to. His will BE done, and that IS final. Our days are in His hand and beyond that no man can pass. We don't have to like it, we don't have to understand it, and we don't have to approve of it, but to find comfort in Him, we do have to bow to His authority in all matters of life and death, and truly mean it when we are face down in our own tears. His will, be done. I had only been a Christian for 15 months, and it was too soon for me to suffer with grace, I was just a baby. I'm sure I didn't suffer with grace, although I'm sure I did cry out to God repeatedly to give me strength to just take one more breath, and keep it together for my girls. What was brutally impossible for me, was very possible for God.
I want someone to know that when I came home that night, I stood still and listened to nothing. I stood and listened to deafening void. I tried to be still and know He is God, but all I really heard was the sound of my own crying. I want someone to know that picking up a framed picture, a hairbrush, a guitar, a microphone, a coffee mug or a jacket... and hugging it as tight as you can, is a perfectly normal thing to do, sometimes. I want someone to know that although it was 13 years ago, the pain is still there. Some pain, just doesn't go away, and will never go away. I want someone to know these things and yet I don't want anyone to know these things, ever. I don't want them to know it about me, nor do I ever want them to ever have to know them firsthand. Not anyone, not ever. Yet, we're all going to go through it, some of us more than once.
I want someone to know that breaking down into uncontrollable sobs that wrack you so hard you cannot function and it physically hurts your body, while doing dishes, or laundry, or cooking a meal, or shopping at the store, or driving, or doing nothing, is something that is also perfectly normal. I want someone to know that even in the deepest pain you will ever suffer, it is entirely possible to laugh at something funny, and then begin to cry all over again because you dared for 1 second to let yourself laugh. Also, very normal.
On July 14th, 1995 I drove my husband to the hospital for the last time. I checked him in, walked with him to his room, waited while he changed and got into bed, sat with him while they inserted the morphine drip, then held his hand as he fell into a desperately needed restful sleep. Much of it was rather mechanical, partly because I tend to go into auto-pilot in traumatic situations then completely lose it later on. The nurse assured me the dosage he was on was enough to keep him sleeping through the night, so I decided to go ahead and just go home. Home? I decided to go to my house. It no longer felt like 'home' and wouldn't, for a very long time. I slept with the light on that night, and woke up several times to check on him just like I'd been doing for the last 4+ years. I cried myself back to sleep every time, when I remembered where he was. That night began a four week waiting period, before the finality of the long battle with cancer, came to reality.
Fast forward the clock 13 years and what have I learned about grief? It hurts, and it hurts more than you can explain. Ripping, stinging, burning, piercing, searing... all of those are good words to describe pain, but even they don't come close to the pain you might feel in grieving. To all the well meaning folks I've ever known that have said "oh, that must have been so hard", yes it was. Yes it is, still. Grief is a process of peeling back layers of emotion, that sometimes you deal with one at a time, and other times you deal with several layers at once, and even years later, you still deal with it in various ways. As I folded laundry this evening it all came flooding back to me (literally, with fresh tears that apparently needed to come out) that grief is a process still, all these years later. You never "get over it" even though you "get on with it". It is impossible to love and lose, and then pretend you didn't, because both change you forever, no matter how brave you think you are, and no matter how your life changes after the loss.
I've also learned that folks grieve differently, and what may be normal for one, may never affect another. What is commonly known as trigger words (or situations, or people) may deeply affect one person in one way, and may have no affect on another person at all. It's all so varied, that it's important to remember that ultimately we all just need to be compassionate toward those that are in the grieving process and understand as much as we can, that they're going through something so very difficult to go through. Something else that I've learned, is that I still have a lot to learn, as it pertains to grieving. James White wrote a book on this very sensitive subject Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace, and it's right at the top of my "next to buy" list, because it's a topic that we all need to understand better, and I've heard from everyone who's read it, it's nothing short of excellent.
With that said, this time of year can be really hard for me. Some days are fine, others are not. For some reason, this year is harder than it has been the last few years, and from what I understand about grieving, that's normal too. I was hoping I'd be the exception to the rule and each passing year would just get a little easier. Maybe in another 13 years I can say that was the case, but not just yet.