My Own Thanksgiving

I feel like it has been an eternity since I have written something. It has taken me a while to gather my thoughts and feelings into something that isn’t completely disjointed. This may still be. I’ve realized that when it comes to writing my feelings and struggles, I absorb them all for a long time until I can find a theme to it all and a connection between the thoughts. This morning I watched a VLOG from a dear friend, who was talking about the joy she finds within times of struggle. So that was the last piece I needed to figure out how to write this. It seems fitting to focus on gratitude at this time of year.

I am now half way through the second year since my mother’s death. I suspected it wouldn’t be easier than the first year, and in many ways that has proven to be true. But it’s a very different type of grief. It feels more general now than before. Where last year it was this acute, crushing absence of my mom, this year it feels more like a general theme of loss that is always at my heels. It’s sad, but more so it is immensely frustrating.

I do not expect myself to be over my grief. I have read so much from people who are five, ten, fifteen years out of the loss of a parent, still feeling the effects. So I’ve probably got a long way to go. I don’t really want to get over it, I just look forward to the day that I embrace what has happened, and not feel so swamped in loss. Not just the loss of the person, but of everything that came with her place in my life. I was there at one point in time, but something threw me backwards. I’m not sure what exactly it was. I miss how it felt. To face this grief but say to myself “it has happened, but you are okay. It is okay.” Instead I have become more prone to anxiety and fear of things I can’t control. I feel like sadness in the world and in others hits me exponentially harder than it ever has.

I get worried a lot. I worry that I will get stuck at this phase, but ignoring it and not letting myself feel it worries me more. I have been about that from the very start, refusing to run from my pain, or cover it up. I’ve never been someone who can mask my emotions. Not that I’m perfect at it. The first three months after my mother died involved looking for anything to keep me busy, and too many glasses of wine.

I worry that my girls will remember my sadness. I think that is the worst part…feeling like my grief may shape their earliest memories of me. That they will see me as sad, when all I want them to know is how happy they make me.

I worry that I am one-dimensional in some ways. I think having always been someone who is optimistic, upbeat, and enthusiastic about just about anything, and becoming whatever this version of me is, feels like I fell further because of where I started. Like I’m running up against a brick wall, knowing that at my core and in my soul, I am a joyous person who can’t seem to knock down the barrier keeping me from getting back to where I was before, or finding a new version of it. I’m just the “sad girl” now. While the facts are that I have worked to and have grown as a person in the last few years, the monotony of grief makes me feel like I am the same person day in and day out. I am always working on my growth, but feeling like I haven’t grown at all. The changes feel overshadowed by the hurt that feels exactly the same each day.

For now, I think I have to focus harder at finding things that make me happy and grateful. My faith in God makes me happy. It makes me feel whole despite everything. It makes me feel like ultimately, everything will be okay. Having faith in God in times of hurt is hard. I think my prayers involve the words “I’m trying,” more than anything else.

My children make me a word that “happy” won’t do justice to. I’m biased, but they are remarkable little people. And I literally don’t know who or what I’d be without my husband. I told him he should write a book on how to help a grieving spouse. I am grateful for our seventeen years together, because I ultimately don’t have to explain a thing. He gets it when I don’t have the words.

I’m grateful for my family, my dad’s heart, my brother’s listening ear, and the fact that he needs me too. I’m grateful for my sister in law and her timing in my family’s life, and the soul she brings to it. I’m thankful to plan holidays with my aunt, and brunches with my friend. I’m thankful for college football, and my love of writing, and where I hope it one day takes me.

And I’m thankful to know that though I’m trudging through this phase now, it won’t last forever.

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