To say this time of year is hard is a total understatement. The last three years I have dreaded the month of August, but really it is July that seems to get to me in the worst way. July is full of memories . . .my last memories with Truman: preschool, silly things he said, adventures, snuggles, pictures, it just holds so much in 31 short days. Then there is August. The 1st which was my last day and then the 2nd – my absolute worst day! Each year this season of grief has been different. Patsy Clairmont shared a wonderful thought on grief from her book, Twirl…A Fresh Spin At Life:
“Within each of us there is a cemetery of sorrow. It is a legitimate place where the losses throughout our lives accumulate and one we must visit repeatedly to do our grief work. Grief is often untidy. We can’t wrap our losses in fine stationery and tie it up with a bow. Instead, they come layered in memories, regrets, and unresolved conflicts. So to revisit our cemetery is healthy because grief is often ongoing and done in seasons. Visits are necessary for our well-being, as long as we don’t’ take up residency among the tombs……..We serve a gracious and compassionate Savior, who understands our heartbreak. And while we must grieve he doesn’t want us to live in the cemetery. Christ longs to help us expand our zip code that we might reenter life more able to offer grace.”
Every bit of this analogy rings true for me. I don’t believe there is any better word to follow grief than work. It is hard work. Exhausting work. Heartbreaking work. The kind of work that seems endless . . . yet is absolutely necessary! It has been such hard work hurting so badly in a hurting house. It has been unbelievably hard work watching the people I love most hurting alongside me. It has been grace-filled work holding my marriage together. It has been ugly nasty dirty work – working on me. Working through all the pain, guilt, shame, emptiness . . . So many days it was work to just breath.
I look back on the day of Truman’s accident & the days following & the best description I can give is a vicious storm came & tore everything we had apart – leaving us with the worst kind of mess. Nichole Nodeman song “We Build” describes it so well,
“It’s bigger than we thought. It’s taller than it ought to be. This pile of rubble and ruins. The neighbors must talk. It’s the worst yard on the block. Just branches & borders where walls stood. Did it seem to you like the storm just new we weren’t quite finished with the roof? But it started. So we build. We build. We clear away what was & make room for what will be. If you hold the nails, I’ll take the hammer. I’ll hold it still, if you climb the ladder. I will if you will – build. On any given day we could simply walk away & let someone else hold the pieces. The lies that we tell is that it is better somewhere else – as if life flies south when it freezes…”
All of our lives – mine, my husband’s, our children’s, our family – it was all just one big mess!
A lot of people want to look at what we have been through (especially now, 3 years through this valley) and draw a line in the dirt – times up. They expect us to be “over it” or assume as years pass it gets “easier.” You know, “time heals.” I’m not where I was 3 year ago. Each year has brought new work, new pain, and even new growth. Some days are still just as hard as the first few, but the bad days seem to be squeezed between more and more good days. It is a place I have to revisit, sometimes by choice, but not always. A counselor once told me I wouldn’t grieve forever, but I would mourn the rest of my life. At first I didn’t understand what she was saying, but as I have experienced the different seasons of grief I have gained a better understanding. I don’t ever want to be stuck in my grief, but I realize now every step I take through this valley is necessary. Ann Voskamp nailed it when she said, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.” So I’m not sure how long I will be here, but I am going to embrace it all with high expectations – expecting God to be my strength and use it for His purpose. It’s not a place I would have ever chosen to be, but I’ll go if He wants me to. I’ll do this grief work – I’ll pay the price. The 3 years with Truman are worth it all. I miss him, I want him back, but I am also so very thankful for the 3 years I had with him & I look forward to spending eternity with him.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord . . .” -Col 3:23