The beginning of a new year has come and gone.
And I haven't written because I've barely been awake at all. In fact, I brought my laptop to the local coffee shop this morning just to force my eyes open during the actual daytime.
The month of January was, in a word, horrific. Of 31 days in the month, the sun was only out 5 of them. It was dark.
Literally dark and metaphorically, so very dark.
Finally I begged the Lord to show Himself because I just couldn't see through the pain and gloom.
My heart is broken. It's completely and totally broken.
Grief showed up this winter in a way that I didn't anticipate and could never have prepared for. I learned that I don't know the taste of him like I once thought I did. The familiar friend who had walked with me for so long suddenly took on a whole new form and felt completely unfamiliar to my spirit. In that same way, not only did I feel abandoned by my only true companion but also conflicted by my own feelings; the very things that I thought I had some control over.
It turns out, as usual, I do not have any control at all.
In December I started to have dreams again. Actual, vivid, middle-of-the-night dreams. Since Mabel died, 20 months ago exactly, I haven't had any. Others have dreamt of her but I haven't dreamt at all. Not of her, but not of anything. I had never known anyone to not dream until I met Chris. In our home growing up we talked of our sleep adventures often. My mom and my sister are both distinct dreamers. So when Mabel died and my dreams suddenly stopped, it was in a sense, another loss. The places I would go subconsciously and the things I would experience in the night were just suddenly non-existent. My days felt lonely and my nights felt empty. I was resting, sure, but I have longed for that part of myself since the day she (and they) left me.
Now they have returned and in a way that has been profound for me; the recollection of incredible things in my sleep. Sometimes, though, I have found that dreaming is more exhausting than I once knew. Almost as if I'm more exhausted following the nights that I dream than when I am solely in the dark with nothing.
Along with my dreams returning, so have a lot of suppressed memories; things that I have apparently disassociated from in all capacities in order to survive the pain and loss of my baby. But facing them now, almost 2 years later has put me on the very edge of the emotional cliff. Of course, I want to want to walk through the memories because by doing so, I believe I would be allowing myself to grieve fully and to do so with intention and authenticity.
I want to do that because it is necessary to be well but actually allowing myself to experience those memories takes a work of the heart that is excruciating in a way that words cannot effectively describe.
My friend Michaela wrote it beautifully and perfectly this week on Instagram,
"Grief is the great disrupter. It unearths the spirit. Slaps it out of warm water into open air and watches as you writhe. It is not just sadness. Over time, I see that it is anger, difficulty coping with change, fatigue, anxiety, and panic. It is depression, rolled over you like a blanket one day and then gone the next. I can see it now, in my reactions to life. It's not just the trauma of loss, it's my grief. It builds. I cuss out other drivers, I grip the steering wheel, I have trouble finding the sliver lining, I am restless and yet tired, I am unable to take care of myself, I lose patience too quickly....
...I am a dragon. I slay demons in my sleep. I get up every morning and even when I'm weak, the Spirit of God shines from my wounded soul. I grind and claw and spit fire. I see my weakness and say; you've got nothing on me. I claim my place in society; I am a dragon mama. I am a bereaved mama. I am a broken mama. I am a ferocious mama."
Grief is not just sadness.
God, no. Oh how I wish it were.
This month I have felt all the anger that a person can feel. It's undirected and even unintentional but it is very real. This month is the first time that I haven't felt strong in my daily grieving. It used to be an ebb and flow of missing Mabel but then feeling great victory for her eternal rest. I could almost always reconcile it, and quickly. Heaven was a balm for the ache.
But this month, I haven't felt that at all. I have thought more about the actual details of her death and wondered about each and every breath. I have walked back through it in great detail. Not just her death, but her life. The moments when I would hold her and dance with her and walk with her. The moments when I could hear her grunt from across the room and giggle at nothing. The painful memories that I just haven't wanted to scratch through-at all. And honestly, I still really don't want to. It's so much easier not to. It makes me feel so guilty to say it, think it, write it but my God, it's true.
I see now, though, that grief is also the great forcer. He's going to make me even though I'm fighting hard not to.
I wasn't going to surrender to him. I didn't want to feel all the things just yet.
But that was before I knew that I was going to be an Aunt.
Even writing it is incredible.
And painful. And precious. And terrifying. And amazing.
And in the coffee shop, the tears flow down my cheeks hot and hard.
My sister; the very first love of my life is growing new life inside of her as I type. She heard a heartbeat that was strong and full of great hope. Since finding out, I have experienced every emotion that I think a human being is capable of feeling. Maybe even more than we're meant to feel in a lifetime.
Our God, the rescuer and healer, and great planner of all things formed this little baby perfectly and placed it inside of my sister's womb to be born into this world at the most perfect time.
And He did so with such intimate detail.
A baby to be born in the middle of summer heat, sharing the exact same due date (to the very day) of it's sweet cousin in Heaven, our Mabel.
"Let go, my soul, and trust in Him...the waves and wind still know His name."
And then, I decided to surrender. Not to grief alone but to the grief that God is providing my heart in order to heal. Or to at least be well.
For myself. And for Nora and Braden. And my husband.
But also, for this new baby that has probably already met my baby in spirit. Who could very likely look just like her. Or maybe sound just like her. And possibly smell just like her.
I want to give the best of myself to myself. And to all of them... in every way that I can.
Right now the very best I have looks a little ugly. It's a lot of crying and a lot of sleeping and it looks very isolated and lonely. That's because it is.
But I know now that that's ok. I believe that for this season, it's even meant to be. And for as long as it looks this way, I'm going to let it be and walk through it the very best I can.
However I can.
Some days I'm just proud of my heart, body, and mind's ability to have survived thus far. I wake up and feel surprised sometimes that it hasn't all just shut down and given up. But because it hasn't, I'm determined to help my spirit match the rest of me. We are complex beings, after all, and every component doesn't have to match. (I talked that through in therapy this week, which I recently started.)
I'm working really hard to listen to myself and do the practical things I can to make it through this, my hardest season of grief, thus far. I stopped working so that I could sleep more and let my mind and body rest. I have seen every specialist I can to try and figure out some of the physical things that are happening in my body. For so long I put off taking care of me in order to take care of everything else and now I'm paying a price for that. I am reading when I can. I am taking longer baths. I'm laying with the kids a little longer each night. I'm just trying to be very present with myself and whatever it is I'm feeling exactly when I feel it.
This, I'm finding, is a much harder task then one would imagine.
I'm hoping that February brings with it some answers about my health, some sunshine, maybe a little snow, and more of whatever it is that my heart needs.
I pray that this month of love will be gentle with me. But even if it is not, I know that God really will remain faithful. Even if He feels distant, He is not. Even if I push Him very far away, He watches closely from a distance, protecting my broken heart with an ease that only He can.
I have found that unlike grief, God is not the great intruder.
He is, though, the great pursuer. Sometimes quietly churning my spirit toward Him. Sometimes doing nothing and just letting me be. Very much like I parent my own children, He loves me intimately and uniquely, knowing exactly what I need.
"Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades.
Never-ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame.
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise...from the inside out, Lord my soul cries out..."