First I want to thank you again for taking your time to read my blog. I am presently at 6186 views and I am so appreciative. If you have taken the time to comment, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven’t responded because I was afraid I couldn’t keep up and would create more stress for myself. Just know I have read and reread every comment here and on Facebook and it has made me very humble. I hope I can continue to provide something worth reading infused with an elixir of hope.
I often wonder who I am these days, the girl who thought life was “perfect” or the woman who has suffered incredible and unimaginable loss. I definitely have changed and sometimes I wonder what changes others see. As I see myself in the mirror, I always go straight to the eyes. I remember thinking my friends who had lost a child had sad eyes. Everything else was the same, but the eyes tell a story.
When I was a little girl and into my teens, I had a technique for coping. Whether it was school break, a holiday, vacation or anything exciting, I would pass the time by looking forward to these events. I relished every moment of celebration, taking picture after picture to preserve those moments in time. Holidays were particularly difficult for my mom, but she always made them incredible. Everything was special and it had nothing to do with money. It was all about the effort and love she put into it. I think I got my love of Christmas from her. It wasn’t the gifts, but the time together that I remember most.
So here comes Santa Claus like it or not. It’s a fact of life that every year is filled with holidays and celebrations. For those bereaved, the holidays hold a different meaning. The mind is filled with what was and the desire to look at what is and what’s to come is a daunting task. Those suffering loss often try to follow the same traditions, eating the same food at the same table in the same house. It is often an expectation that you attend gatherings and wear a smile, acting like you are ok. Well as the title of the book says, It’s ok not to be ok. You are allowed a pass, not forever, but for now.
I am trying to anticipate how difficult this year will be. I used to get “Christmas Crazy” and stay up all night on Christmas Eve, putting things together, wrapping and filling stockings. Rick would try to hang, but eventually he would give up and go to bed. I was like a kid and probably more excited than one. He thought I overdid everything and I’m sure it was a possibility. Tradition was extremely important to me and I did not want anything to change, but it did.
Thanksgiving was another holiday immersed in tradition. Everyone remembers Meemaw’s cooking and nothing showcased her cooking better than Thanksgiving. She would cook for two days and through the night, almost unable to make it to bed that night. Oh I can still smell the aromas wafting from that kitchen. It is something I will never forget. The year mom died, we ate dinner at Cracker Barrel.
Fall is full of change, there are festivals, football, and falling leaves. As the leaves change so do the seasons. Colors fade and everything turns to brown leaving behind naked limbs and the tree is unrecognizable. Isn’t that sort of what we experience in grief? First comes the event that changes your life, the color drains from your face and eventually you don’t recognize yourself.
It takes months for the leaves to return to the trees and the tree will be a different tree. It has new and different leaves, but all in all, it too, is a beautiful tree. I feel like I was that tree, strong and filled with color, and then Lindsey died and the color of my leaves turned to brown and floated to the ground. Left behind was a skeleton of what was.
Eventually, taking baby steps, I started growing new leaves filling the branches, slowly but surely. It was a deliberate act to return color to my life, to grow and to change for those who loved me. The new tree blossomed looking similar to its predecessor, but still a new tree. I came to like that new tree, it was different and while I longed for the return of the original, I finally was comfortable with the new tree.. Then Rick died and once again, the leaves died and fell from the tree, leaving behind the colorless, leaf barren landscape. Can the same tree be revived again and again?
While I walk the maze this week, I notice the falling leaves, but I also notice there is light shining through making the maze not so dark anymore. I remember then that the color returns eventually and creates a new and different landscape and the small blooms start to peak through. It takes a lot of time for new life to form, but in the end the blooms turn into new growth and that growth begins to be noticeable to you as well as to others. I am willing to do the work to make my tree bloom again, giving it meticulous care, water and food and most of all lots of attention.
Lucy and I will spend our first holidays together this year. Although I miss Rick more than ever, I will do what I need to get through these tough days ahead. Please understand if I occasionally ask for a hall pass. Sometimes taking a break is not a bad thing.