We’ve been back from our trip to Washington for a few days now and I’m still unpacking. No, not the suitcases…I was on top of that this time. Instead I’m sorting through the multitude of memories and emotions that I’ve brought back from this particular trip to my home state.
This first trip with Silas.
The first visit with no possibility to see Grandma.
The last few days of my brother’s life as a single man.
In the weeks leading up to our trip I knew I would experience a roller coaster of emotion. I recognized that there would be times of grief and joy, and that frequently those emotions would be vying for attention simultaneously in my head and heart.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. ~ C.S. Lewis
That first week was hard; harder than I expected it to be. Everyday I experienced moments of pain and loss that would leave me wrecked. Granted, I was also exhausted and hormonal from being 3 weeks postpartum and traveling. I thought that I had gotten over the worse of my grief months ago. But this was new, this hurt on a deeper level. I was no longer numb to the idea of my grandma being gone. Instead I recognized that life was moving on – babies were being born, people were getting married – and I didn’t want that to be the way it worked. It somehow made it harder to be present for all that she was missing.
Laying out by her pool and barbecuing in the evening, just like I’ve done so many summers past. Driving her car, which greeted me with a wall of her perfume each time I opened the door. Going out shopping for something to wear to my brother’s wedding with my mom, a trip that she would have eagerly joined us on. Eating at a restaurant we both loved and always shared the Chicken Dijon. Introducing Silas to everyone and knowing that she would never get to hold him.
The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. ~ C.S. Lewis
The loss seemed fresh. Instead of the almost 3 months that have passed since her memorial, it seemed like just yesterday I was sitting in her bedroom and holding her hand. As I walked through the house I kept expecting to see her around the corner.
A box of photo albums sat in the guest room at my mom’s. My brother was putting together a slide show for his wedding, one of those photo montages that show the couple as they grew up. Suddenly there was album after album of old pictures to look through. I found one I’d never seen of my grandma and I when I was a baby. Turning pages from the past was therapeutic, one of those grief and joy combined moments.
The most interesting part of that week? The relief I felt in my grief. It’s good to cry and to mourn with others. Looking into my grandpa’s eyes and seeing the ache that’s there for his wife was hard, but comforting (in a weird way). Talking with my mom about the feelings that overwhelmed me, feelings I thought I’d already dealt with, helped.
I know I’m not done grieving. Her birthday is next week. There will be other milestones and events throughout the remainder of my life that will dredge up that sense of loss and sorrow.
Yet I am comforted…
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Ps 139:11-12
Because it’s never too dark for God to see me and bring me back into the light.