8 Months…

That’s a hard title to write.  And, it’s even harder to put words to the place I’m at right now.  One thing is certain…no one at 8 months is dealing with their loss the same way.  It has become more apparent than ever that there is NO right or wrong way to handle grief and everyone navigates it in their own good time.

When our oldest daughters would leave to go back to college after being home for the summer, this mamma’s heart would grieve!!  Oh, my!  I would spend a couple to three days mostly in my room…no desire to do life.  About the 4-5 month mark of this grief walk I’m on now, the Lord brought a conversation Clint had with me the last time one of our daughters left to go back.  He sat down on the bed while I was crying and told me to take my time.  He knew I’d bounce back…I always did.  But, here were his words to me, “Take your time, Shelly, but we need you here with us.”  The day the Lord reminded me of those words Clint had spoken to me, I knew I had done my hard grieving.  And, it was as if God and Clint were telling me it was time to do life again; find my joy; really see my family; and begin to hope for my future.  It was time…I had “permission”.

Since then, it has been an act of daily choosing truth over feelings.  Choosing trust over fear.  Balancing moving forward while learning how to still keep him with me.  I don’t want to ever let go.  But I can’t live in the constant pain anymore…and, as hard as it is to write this…I don’t want to.  There…I said it.  That in itself causes some sadness.

Today is July 13.  I made a decision to go to the cemetery every 13th.  I can go other times, but I made a point to go at least on that day.  Why??

Everyday life has removed the sting of the loss on a constant basis.  I’ve grown accustomed to living in the house we shared without him.  His pictures hang everywhere and I can navigate it without crying every time I pass them.  His clothes still hang in his closet.  But, I NEED to feel.  I NEED to connect with the pain I know I have, but don’t allow myself to feel all the time.  I NEED to remember.  And, when I sit in the quiet of the cemetery, I can feel.  I can remember.  I can cry.

To many, this may seem odd.  Why try to feel?

I don’t want to stuff things.  I don’t want to ever forget.  For me, to feel is to stay connected to him in some small way, even if he isn’t here with me anymore.

Life is an odd thing.  You give all this love and then it vanishes into thin air.  I suppose it could be tempting to stop loving altogether.  I’ve contemplated it.  Loving without abandon can be terrifying…especially on this end of things.  Clint said something profound to me last spring when our dog, Sammie, passed away.  I was so hurt over losing her and lamented that we had another dog to lose at some point and I was angry that we’d have to experience that again.  He looked at me and said, “Shelly, don’t self protect.  It’s always worth it to give and receive love.”  He was so wise!

As I write this, I am recalling some of Jesus’ last words to us during His time on earth.  He was sitting at the table with His disciples, for His “Last Supper”.  He broke bread and shared it with them…directing them to eat.  He passed the wine, directing them to drink.  And, He said this, “Do this in REMEMBRANCE of Me”.  Their “remembering” is why we Christians are here today!!  We NEVER want to forget what Jesus did for us!!  He’s the reason we are here at all, have purpose and know where we are going!  I NEVER want to forget!

Every life is valuable to God!!  Each of us have a purpose!!  And, each of us mean something to someone in this world!  I don’t want to stop “remembering”.  I choose to trust God with all these different places.  There is no rule book, but He knows where I am.  He has not lost sight of me.  I don’t always “know” the way, but I can hold the Hand of the One Who does!  I can feel joy, sadness, laughter, tears, hope, and any other emotion and be good with it. I am not defined by any of those feelings.  I can allow myself to feel them and keep moving.  I get to choose my response to them. And, I can choose to love BIG!!  Jesus has freed me to do that, because I know He has me and He will get me through whatever life still has yet to throw at me!

If you’re on this journey and feel alone, look to Jesus.  He is so good and kind and present.  He is enough.  You can trust Him.  John 6:20 “But, He (Jesus) said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

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