I don’t want to write about grief all of the time. But it wants me to write about it.
In fact, at 2 am, it asked that I take notes. So I did. Standing in the kitchen with a pen and pad of paper.
When grieving, it told me, it’s not that our hearts break once and then heal, it’s that our hearts break over and over again. Be patient. Be diligent. Give this grief the time it deserves.
Last night, I set my phone down near the bathroom sink and accidentally called my mom’s home number. And instead of her voicemail or voice on the receiving end, I heard, “This number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.” I called her cell, same thing. I sat there in silence and sadness and deleted her contact info in my “favorites” while questioning whether I should delete it all together. It felt like I was not only erasing her information but her existence. It left me feeling hollow.
The strange, fortunate and sometimes bittersweet thing is that smack dab in the middle of this grief is so much life. My youngest daughter is dancing around in her first pair of ballet slippers and pink tutu, clutching her hands to her chest and saying, “My favorite.”
And then when she wrapped her arms around my neck for a hug, I said, “Oh Iz these hugs are so nice, they make me cry.” And she said, “Cry?, nah.”
I too clutched my heart when I played one of my favorite old songs by the Samples for my son when he was home sick with the flu and he loved it. And then again, my hand on my heart, as I listened to my eight-year-old daughter cry about having her feelings hurt while spring is popping up everywhere out our windows – gardenia, jasmine, and orchids re-blooming in brilliant purple and white.
And while I sit in a circle of incredible women weekly, I find myself in constant awe and reverence as we courageously reveal our true selves to one another. They amaze, inspire, and encourage me with their wit, wisdom and bravery. And they remind me how strong we are at our core.
Glennon Doyle Melton writes that we can do hard things. How many times has this mantra swam in my consciousness this past year? Especially as I said a slow, heart wrenching goodbye to my mom. And almost daily as a parent when one of my kids get sick or doesn’t want to go to bed or feels blindsided by how mean people can sometimes be.
We not only can do hard things, we are made to do hard things. We are created to bend with the wind like palm trees do. One step at time. Separating fact from fiction, reality from anxiety, and facing our fears with deep breaths all while praying they we are not doing this alone. And that somehow, someone or something always has our back.
And as my heart continues to break, I am reminded that only by embracing the breaking can we enable the healing.
This is how the heart mends I think, simultaneously, as it is breaking. It is not a matter of doing well or not. Or being strong or weak or resilient or stoic or keeping busy or keeping it together or crying at unexpected times. It is not that someone was a fighter when going through the cancer that killed them or didn’t. There is not a right or wrong, good or bad way to be sick, grieve or live.
But joyously, gratefully, there is grace. Unconditional love and a willingness to let pain be pain and joy be joy. There is time. Space. Patience. And a deep connection with the people we love. When we welcome the feelings that arise like choppy waves, while giving voice to what is voiceless, we slowly feel the chop recede, and the tide change.
There is nothing wrong with tears. Or sorrow. But when we avoid or deny them, we deny how great this life affirming Love is.
And the tears are as natural as rain falling.
And rain is essential for true green growth.