“Dad, do you think we’ll ever be normal?”
In the quiet of night, well after last light darkened and faded, there we sat. Once again whispering about end without naming it completely, Death, she laid wondering, floating in back and forth tide swelling with memory while sinking in the absence of.
As I asked her what she meant, I knew fully well where her thoughts were crossing. My footprints still pressed into the soil of loss and life asunder. I knew completely where she was. I remember the sticky loneliness of everyone else walking with measured orientation and purpose to their day while my mind just floated on, up and down, broken and lost.
She, too, must feel her feet press into the soil cold and loneliness as it feels.
Just when I feel as though we have enough distance between us and grief smothering and our strides together stretch strong and confidently, words escape in weak confession, “I really miss mom.” And of course, the weak confession is not about lacking strength or stability as much as desperate telling that life still ruptures in moments unexpected. Weeks and months go by without the mention of sadness or evidence of grief but one thought, memory or the sometimes sight of a friend’s mother loving her own daughter, normally, pulls grief right back into present, in the normal that still feels abnormal.
I hear their wonderings and tellings of conversations at school and see the sights of little footprints pressed into the soil. They are walking, too, and blessedly stronger in each new step.
How long does someone die before the memory sweetens,
before dreams soften, before the day settles, before normal again?
You know, I wonder and worry about grief’s effect on our family.
In the years ahead, once my daughters’ paths age a bit more and the evidence of distance traveled is apparent, I wonder of the strength and fortitude forged through insecurity and pain brought into their lives through death.
Brokenness breeds transparency.
The contrary is as much a possibility. I did a decent job hiding the uglier parts of grief initially. I smiled with dodging intention and spoke in healthy ways semi-convincing. All the while, nights lasted hellaciously long. I remember the foot prints that got me here, further down the path where grief processes into recovery and beyond.
A glass house displaying wrong brooding and swirling within unable to be hid well even though the floor’s swept into the darker corners. As well as we might try, the grunge of grief wears heavy on weakened shoulders forced back.
We don’t like to be vulnerable, to cry help, to break in sight of onlookers and friends. As much as I value my individualism and time alone, I’ve never taken well to the saying, ‘suffering in silence.’ I, like the next guy, values the strength projected in having it all together …whatever that truly means. But the freedom found in rejoicing right in the middle of the storm when clouds are unforgiving and the sky thunders unease. The freedom discovered in being okay while breaking in the hands of a God holding all of the splinters in His hand promising redemption if only you allow your pieces to be held.
Transparency is what healed my family broken. Normal once known lost in death risen through ashes spread over hopeful tomorrow.