I have days that are harder than others. Today, for example, is a hard day. While most days pass without tears, today I have felt like crying since the morning. Some of you, like my husband, will want to know why. Why has today been harder than any other day? You crave an algorithm to grief that can be applied across many situations. Others are reading this and shaking their heads at the inevitability of just such a day. You know I have many more ahead. Some of you are thinking that you would like to tell me this, to warn me that it will get worse. To you I say that no day will be worse than February 29, 2016. So you can stop now.
Why is today tough? Nothing at all has happened that sets today apart from any other. But that is just the problem. It’s the normalcy of life that sneaks up and slaps me in the face. My stubborn refusal to believe that this could be normal, will ever be normal, could be considered normal. No! Life is forever altered, changed, broken. Time doesn’t respond as it once did. It skips forward and back with no regard for rules or science. I am here, in the present moment, and then I am running down the stairs of my parents’ house next to my brother on Christmas morning. Suddenly I am stuck in a whirlwind of memory and emotion, small pieces sticking to me as they swirl by. I can’t grab any of them; they elude me, but I get flashes of each one as it passes. Pieces of my childhood are stained and torn in the torrent. They are forever altered. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. I can’t change the past. And yet, it’s happening, it is changing and I am powerless to stop it.
I feel my loss the way one would an injury. There are moments that life is busy and I am distracted and hardly notice it, but it is always there. There are other times in which, try as I might, I cannot take my mind off of the pain. It is too strong, too insistent. It is affecting my decisions and thoughts. It is affecting my memory. I get angry, now, as I try to cling to something that exists outside of this whirlwind: routine, familiarity, comfort, all they elude me. All I can see is destruction, all I can feel is loss.
My life, as any other, has had its fair share of hard times. Much less than many, perhaps more than some. However, this situation is the first in which I have truly wondered can I do this? It has truly questioned my resolve, my own knowledge of myself. Many times I have been certain that I just can’t do it anymore. I have had evenings where I was comvinced that my heart would stop or my brain would give up on me. The pain, which is on so many levels, overwhelms and overstimulates me. I have craved a quiet place to stop and just think. I have worried that I would go crazy from the pain, the guilt, and the worry. I have seriously doubted that I could handle my grief, let alone the grief of my husband, my parents, family, and friends. I have wanted so badly to run away.
It wasn’t bravery that kept me here; it was a lack of other options. No matter how I joke about it, I can’t actually jump on an airplane and leave this behind. My grief travels with me wherever I go.
There have been acute moments of worry in which I have cried aloud for the strength to get through it. I suppose I expected to feel energized and renewed, but I did not. I received just enough strength to get through the next 60 seconds. I learned that God will provide what I need, but never in excess, never an abundance which could be wasted. He has given me strength to survive one minute at a time.
My day is a parcel of 60-second-long moments. I can only see myself through the current moment, and my faith tells me I will get through the next, but I never see more than 60 seconds at a time. Because I trust Him, I know that I don’t want to see beyond that. I will meet each challenge as it comes. I will live from one breath to the next.