2 years now
I count the days, even if unintentionally. The memory sneaks in, beside to-do lists and busyness. I wordlessly nod to it as I pass.
I woke up early this morning. On a Saturday after a long week when I was counting on some rest and relaxing I awoke early to the sound of showers running and happy chatter and the soft breathing coming from the bed next to me.
I was hot and sticky, tired from a restless night.
It's like that day 2 years ago, when I woke early.
Except this time there are no tears, no animalistic howls coming from a place deep inside of me I didn't know existed.
There is only quiet, soft breathing, the sound of running water.
The trauma has passed but the echo still vibrates.
Last night during the PRBI youth rally, my good friend got the call that her grandmother had passed away.
When I found her in a quiet corner amidst the loudness of the evening, I wrapped her in my arms.
And the tears fell. She wept for her own loss and the changes this would mean for her, because loss never leaves anyone untouched. I cried for her grandma, and my cousin, and the cruel unfairness of this world.
I wrote last night that I'm in the process of being stretched open.
I've spent days trying to figure out how to write this. Everything feels exhausting and it seems the body remembers trauma before the mind does and I've been wondering why things sting so much, feel so personal, when life is good?
Shortly after the funeral, a friend told me to feel what I feel. I understood that advice then. I tell it to other mourners, the people who are limping after me on this trail called grief. They have blisters and bruises, and every step sends shockwaves through the body. I wouldn't call myself a seasoned hiker, but I'm getting there.
I've been hiking for 2 years now. The bruises have healed, the blisters popped and new skin formed. I have callouses on my feet and the brutal conditions don't seem to have the same effect on me.
And perhaps I better understood then the meaning of being gentle with oneself.
In those early stages, where the wound still bled and bled, I understood allowing myself to feel what I felt.
But now I wonder if this rule still applies to me, a seasoned hiker 2 years out.
I just passed the 2 mile marker, shouldn't that make me better equipped than those just starting out? Surely they need this emergency care more than I do.
But even those of us who have just passed the 2 mile marker feel the pinch of how things are when they should have been different. I shouldn't even be wearing these hiking boots in the first place, much less be accustomed to the way they fit my feet.
Sometimes the injustice of it all has the power to render me breathless. I ache with words unspoken, memories dancing around in my skull.
It gets easier, of course, but it doesn't get effortless. The hike of grief, no matter how long you've been on the trail, is still long and exhausting.
Sometimes you wish you could stop.
Sometimes you lay in bed early in the morning and think of that day 2 years ago when you woke up to your worst nightmare.
This week I've been learning I'm not in control.
I know this, and I've learned this lesson before, but somehow it has a way of coming back to me.
With everything chaotic and messy I wanted stillness. Instead I got 80 loud youth interested in checking out our campus.
I was asked to share my life, my space, my friends, my story.
Nothing went as planned, and last night while hundreds of people were laughing I stole a few minutes of solitude.
Life goes on, I realized. As much as I would like to freeze the moment when trauma happens, to still everything until I can deal with what's at hand, I don't always get the opportunity.
This week when I wanted to be filled I was asked to give.
And I wrestled with this, feeling empty and as though I had nothing of value to offer these people who were coming to this place full of expectations.
I'm realizing that pretty amazing things happen when you say yes.
The people who've gathered around me to support me this week have been just what I needed. The way they care for me never ceases to amaze me.
In my effort to welcome and invite I've been welcomed into an even greater effort, and the grace extended to me by those I intended to extend grace to surprised and humbled me.
Last night our drama team did a skit about the feeding of the 5000
I've heard the story over and over, but seeing it acted out made it all real to me. These disciples had nothing, and in their barrenness they questioned how they were going to do what they had been called to do.
Their questioning, their frustration with this seemingly impossible task, their "really Lord?" all hit me in a real way.
I'd just come back in after holding my friend while she cried, after barely making it to my own room before collapsing on the bed and asking "seriously, God?", after finding one of the staff members for a much needed hug because the world felt like too much in this moment.
But the disciples searched for food, finding only 5 loaves and 2 fishes.
I know how the story ends. They blessed it and it fed the people, enough so that there was leftovers.
But this time I saw it. They blessed it, and their not enough became enough.
Their barrenness, their weakness, their defeat became victory and accomplishment and plenty.
I may have cried just a little, at this idea of the lacking becoming the plentiful.
And so in my lack of, in my own inner barren land, in my emptiness and exhaustion when I can barely ask the question of how I'm supposed to keep on going, I give thanks.
Thank you God for 16 years of memories with L, for using him to show me things I never would have learned otherwise, and for the blessings you've brought to me that are only sweeter because of the bitter taste of loss. You've provided in the barren land.
Thank you God for family, and the ones still surrounding me. For sister smiles and holding hands. You've provided in this barren land.
Thank you God for the opportunity to extend and invite, to make room even if it just involves making a bed, to say yes and be richly blessed by all that is falling into place. You've provided in this barren land.
Thank you God for health, and the way you sustain. Yet again you've provided here.
Thank you God for relationships, and for the beautiful people you've placed in my life. Again, provision.
I say thank you, and watch my not enough become enough.
My broken grief becomes slivers of gratitude.
It aches something fierce, but in a way that is preparing me for hard and holy things.
2 years later.
I never thought I'd make it here.
I never thought I'd still be standing, still be smiling, still be alive with a beating heart.
Because when half your heart has been ripped out, when suddenly your world is tilted on it's axis and even getting out of bed seems unthinkable, making it to the 2 mile mark seems impossible.
The dull ache of remembering hurts, and I nod to it as I pass by.
I know you, I whisper, I see you. I've never forgotten, because how can you forget something that caused such a profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual impact? No, I haven't forgotten. I'm still here, still remembering, still aching. But I'm doing something else too, something I didn't think I'd be doing 2 years ago.
I'm still living. I'm pressing forward. I'm extending a hand and helping others who just started on this hiking trail. It's bloody and messy and hard but it's beautiful.
I'm finding those slivers of gratitude.
Because this, I'm finding, turns my barren nothingness into a rich enough.
L.M.M - 2 years later and I still can't believe you're gone. You've changed my life, in so many ways, and I'm so grateful for all you've taught me. I love you, my cousin. Until I see you again in all perfection where there will be no more tears, no more hurt, no more sadness, and only the fullest love.