I'm 3 1/2 months into this world of widow-hood and it's as brutal as you might expect. Lately, the waves of grief crash with unrelenting force and there is little time between them. I can feel them coming on, almost like an emotional contraction, and as I take my cleansing breath I wonder how many hours or days the next set of waves will last before I might breathe again.
Gianna says it best when she declares, "I just wish Daddy will stop dying." That's what it feels like to me too: he keeps dying - and our hearts keep breaking - over and over and over. It's exhausting. It's gripping. It's hollowing. It's isolating. It's lonely. It's humbling. It's excruciating. It's the most vulnerable I've ever been. It's my existence right now....and I won't lie --- I don't like any of it.
I miss him. My soul aches. I have no words to describe the pain of longing and missing and wanting things to be different. Sometimes I feel like a spoiled child yelling, "I don't want to do this anymore." I have fantasies about God coming to me and saying, "Oh Maria, what a trial you've had to endure. I'm so proud of you and how you have dealt with this, so as I reward I will be making all things as they should be. Go and get ready because I will be sending Iain back to you and Gianna in his happiest and healthiest state."
Oh, don't worry ~ I'm not delusional. Trust me when I tell you that I am very grounded in my reality these days. I just don't happen to like my reality ~ AT ALL. I know I'm not the only one. I often think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” Luke: 22:42 I'm certainly not in the position to assume what Jesus' actual feelings were, but he wasn't just fully divine - he was also fully human, and in believing in his humanity, I would have to guess that he wasn't so excited about his cross either. His faithfulness is what we remember ("not my will but yours be done,") but his faithfulness doesn't erase his humanity ("take this cup away from me"). That's where I am....feeling the reality and depths of my humanity.
I think people assume because I am a woman of faith, that these kind of trials and crosses are somehow easier. People have said to me, "You'll be fine. You have such strong faith. If anyone can handle this, you can." I know they mean well, but it's almost offensive to me and it really invalidates my very human, very painful grief. Oh, I can write a book on what helps and what doesn't in dealing with someone who is grieving - maybe not a book - but a post is in the works, for sure.
I am not writing this glimpse into my grief to gain sympathy or pity. (Trust me, I get looks of pity all the time - and it's not so fun.) I just think people see me (and Gianna) in public fairly often - doing what we do - living our lives with whatever semblance of normalcy we can - and there is an assumption that life isn't so hard. People often tell me that are so impressed that we are doing so well. Sometimes I correct them, "Oh, I'm not okay - but I am managing." I feel like an absolute WRECK 90% of the time.
I'm learning how much energy it takes to do 'normal' things - especially in public. Going to birthday parties, weddings (brutal), and church (longest hour of my week) are not always miserable - but it takes every bit of energy to survive them. Even just to grocery shop it takes me isles and isles of Hail Mary's just to make it to the car without losing it. And just because you don't see me cry or Gianna fall apart - doesn't me we don't.
There are SO many people who are struggling with all sorts of pain and grief which I'm sure is amplified during this holiday season - you know, the happiest time of the year. I wonder how many people in our lives are begging to be reached out to and are suffering in silence as the rest of us complain about too many party invitations, how we'll manage to get our shopping done and how we don't have anything to wear for Christmas day. Yeah, it's all small potatoes, folks. Even if you pick an angel off a tree at the mall to buy presents for, even if you donate a Christmas basket at church - this just a reminder to actually connect to with real people - in person (facebook and texting is a nice 2nd best - but isn't the same as a phonecall or visit).
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Before I close, I do want to say that there are times of joy and fun and normalcy in my daily life. I know I seem morose - and I am, I guess - but I am not hopeless or without faith - just walking through the fire of this journey of grief. The very best thing that people tell me is that they are praying for us - all of us - Iain too. Thank you to all those people who have continued to lift us in prayer. May you be richly blessed.