Do you ever have something that you know you are resisting? When the time to begin again feels difficult but the thought doesn’t leave you? That is how the idea of writing again has been. People have mentioned they miss my blogs and extended kind invitations to write again. I have often begun or ended the day with the thought of writing, I have even started and started again, but for some reason, I have not yet hit publish.
But now, I am sitting with an open afternoon, surrounded by my family, with noise that fills the space of a beautiful, large, log cabin cottage where we are celebrating Christmas. I wonder what to do with the time that is before me and I know that it is time.
Hard to imagine it was 7 months yesterday since my Dad left us. Hard to believe it is six years tomorrow since my brother Len left us.
I believe that one of the greatest lessons I have learned in the journey of love and loss is the choices that are before me each and every day.
Choices of how I will be true to the feelings of my heart.
Choices of how I will be true to the legacy of Len or my Dad.
Choices of how I will live out the calling to be uniquely me?
I have many moments where my grief is tender and my ache feels deep. I am aware that when the days and months come and go, 7 months doesn’t feel like that long. Some things are still so fresh and there are always the firsts. A few people have mentioned to me lately how year two is harder than year one. I am reminded then that even after 6 years, we have spaces where Len is deeply missed. Grief and time are a funny thing. Those who were so present with us in so many ways are now gone and missed in so many places.
And yet, yesterday, I thought wow, 7 months. A whole summer and fall without my Dad. I grill the meat more often, I know how to use his gas-powered blower and I now know the mixture of the gas oil ratio for his large snow blower. I miss his pipe, his input, his voice and most of all his quiet but large presence in my/our world. Tonight as we open gifts I will miss his poetry and his laughter.
Len and my Dad were a big part of us, but they were not our only gifts of goodness. We had 28 people gathered last night and we held hands to pray for dinner, we were reminded of all we have. The goodness in the people who are present and the gifts that are innumerable. We are gathered at a beautiful place together on Lake Michigan to share in the abundance of love and relationships under this log cabin roof. We remembered Len by singing the Navy hymn and eating homemade burgers (but Nick didn’t burn them. :-), and watching a video of our favorite photos. We remembered my Dad by watching a video and sharing gifts that speak to his life and goodness. We have laughed and we have cried, we have joy and we have sorrow, we have spaces that hold an abundance of noise and moments of silence that are both reflective and precious.
And so this holiday season we have choices. Choices about how we will grieve. We have choices about who we will grieve with and how we will speak of our grief. We have choices about what our Christmas season will look like, not denying what is real, but embracing all that our hearts hold. The holiday and grief is complicated but not impossible. There is goodness and there is sorrow and both are equally real. And both invite me to good spaces. And both are true not only in our lives but in so many others. So, I am aware that it is time to write again. It is time to share all my heart holds in creative ways through words. It is time to put in black and white that even on the hard days, hope anchors my soul. For that I am grateful! And now to honor my Dad with closing words He would use to end his written communications.
Glory be to God!