Shades.

It’s been a little difficult getting back into writing.  I love it, it’s therapeutic, and I always feel better on the other side of having hit “publish”.  But time has been a little difficult.  I find myself with way too many ideas, that is never an issue.  But not the opportune time to sit, grab coffee or tea, and just spew onto the page (screen?).  I guess I need to start carrying a bigger purse and tote with me a Common Place Journal.  Duly (and truly) noted.

As October ends and November begins, I get chills–we will start marking our grief in years.  Sunday, though it was still in October, started a flow of really difficult times ahead.  I have the opportunity to preach for my congregation on November 5th.  That’s the traditional date to celebrate All Saints’ Day (the first Sunday after Halloween).  But as a requirement to my preaching, I told my boss that we would have to celebrate ASD a week early.  I just didn’t think I could handle preaching on that day.  He graciously obliged and here we are.  So we stood when mom’s name was read on Sunday in remembrance.  All three of us, right in a row, with clasped hands and Kleenex at the ready.  There were tears, there were hand squeezes and hugs from friends.

I’m tied to dates.  Heavily so.  I take stock in time and place and catalog it all away.  So November will be hard; really, really hard.  One year since she went to the ER.  One year since she went to GVS.  One year since it all started and she didn’t come back.  One. Year.  And then you throw in Thanksgiving, one of our family’s favorite holidays.  And you throw in her birthday directly after, and it’s a lot.  Needless to say, I’m taking a couple extra days in November–for me as much as for anyone else.  Because, as I become more and more aware, grief is a process.

I handle the grief surprisingly well.  Most days I can hold it close to me and find the light in the moments of dark.  But other times the tears fall–I’m not afraid of the tears, it’s okay, crying is healing for me.  I just don’t like the public tears.  I appreciate the raw emotion, and being able to share my vulnerability with my closest friends.  But my grief in spotlight is not something I enjoy.  (Maybe that’s a part of why this post in particular is so difficult–but necessary).

Thankfully I have friends who understand, and those who empathize when they can’t quite understand.  Friends who hug, and laugh, and ask the tough questions.  The friend who has seen me cry time and time and time again at lunches at restaurants (there are still more to come).  The friend who tentatively asked me if I’d be willing to discuss hospice with her as she felt it may be necessary for her own parent (we both cried for that one).  The friend who empathized for a long time and now is travelling her own journey with a parent with unknown health outcomes.  The friend who searches for glimpses of mom, in our lives and in her own life, and pushes us to feel Mom’s presence around us.  The friend who creates space and brings light through her understanding of many of my worlds as they collide–as she said to me last week “There is just something about OWU friends…”  The friend who; though she lives in a different state; prays for me constantly, is my rock, and has been there since the beginning–us sobbing under the table (discussing mom’s diagnosis) at her husband’s 21st birthday will always have a bittersweet place in my heart.  I am thankful for these and more–many people have held and continue to hold me up.

I feel my grief in shades of purple.  Today I’m a light lavender, tomorrow may come in more of an eggplant.  I’m sure that things will never be pure white again–though who knows if they were ever more than off-white to start with.  But I am thankful for the shades; they remind me of my strength, my love for my mom, and for reality in life’s ebb and flow.  Without the “bad” would we ever truly appreciate the “good”?

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