We have all heard the saying, “Everyone grieves differently.” It’s the saying that gives people permission to feel and act on feelings as part of a process that may take days, months, or even years. Losing mommy at the beginning of 2016 plunged my family into the grief process. However, it’s now nearly 11 months later and truthfully, my grieving process has only just begun.
I am a textbook firstborn child. I was an honors student my entire life, got a full ride to college–dean’s list, cum laude, then a graduate degree in ministry. I had to get the good grades, I had to meet expectations, I had to fit the mold as it were. I did it dutifully, with no regrets. After all, the mold was fine, there was nothing wrong with the mold. The mold was crafted by loving parents, supported by a community made up of friends and family…the mold worked. Until it didn’t anymore.
Right now, I’m tired of the mold. It has lost some of its meaning with the absence of mommy. It doesn’t make sense trying to run the same routes when your personal cheerleaders are not there anymore. When the one person who steadily cheered you on regardless of any situation is no longer in the stands, running is no longer fun.
There’s nothing wrong with the routes to be run. The other people cheering from the stands don’t mean any less, but that integral piece meant so much, that running the race without her just doesn’t make sense right now.
That’s not to say that the race is over. Surely not. There are goals to be met, people to see along the way. But what it does mean, is that right now is the perfect time to stop running and rest.
Sometimes people don’t understand rest. They think rest isn’t good for you because it doesn’t look the way they think it should.
My rest was always coming home to my family, kicking off whatever pair of shoes I was wearing and leaving them under the coffee table until I finally remembered where they were. My rest was curling up in a corner on the couch and deciding what movie to watch with my dad while he ate pistachios in his chair. My rest was celebrating that mommy made it to Christmas vacation without strangling any of her students. It was decorating the Christmas Tree with 29 year old ornaments and helping mommy string lights on her keyboard and daddy’s fish tank. It was dancing to Christmas music with my brothers in the living room because they never judged my dance moves. It was kissing my mother goodnight on Christmas Eve and saying I’d be back after spending time with good friends. It was waking up on Christmas morning and reading Luke chapter two around the Christmas tree and then going back to sleep! It was asking, “what time are we going to Grandma’s house?” and then all of us not being ready when we said we would be, except for daddy. He was always ready. It was going to Grandma’s house and seeing whatever family/friends happened to be there that year…and then eventually the singing would start. It was mommy singing Jesus What a Wonderful Child while my aunts and uncles sang back up. That was my rest, and I will never ever have that kind of rest ever again.
So, to me, it makes complete sense not to pretend that this Christmas is like any other. I have no desire to run the routes that I’m used to running because I know that my rest, the way that I am used to getting it, is not coming.
I have incredible friends and family that open their hearts and their homes to me and I’m so thankful. But honestly, I don’t want it. I want my mommy and no one can give me that. Anything other than that would be a sad comparison.
I don’t want to make arrangements so that I can spend Christmas Eve with friends and family because I won’t get to kiss my mother’s cheek and say, “see you later.” I don’t want to laugh and be merry because when it’s over, I won’t be able to sit down on the couch and leave my shoes under the coffee table until I remember where I left them last. Mommy won’t be singing in grandma’s living room this year. Therefore, I don’t want to participate.
It’s not that I want to be sad and depressed and cry alone. No, I just need to recover and redefine what my rest looks like. No one can do that but me. People can say that I need to be surrounded by others so that I feel loved and supported, people can say that I need to try to be as normal as possible, but that’s not true. I know myself, and I know that I need rest and I won’t get it at home. At any of my homes. I’ll be standing in someone’s kitchen knowing that everything is different and my world is not right. I’ll be sleeping in someone’s spare bedroom and it’ll be a reminder that I no longer have a key to my house and can no longer wake up in the bedroom that sometimes (even nearly three years later) I still dream about waking up in.
So I’m leaving. Just for a couple of days. I’m going to somewhere I’ve never been (because I couldn’t afford a ticket to London) so that I can walk around and not feel responsible for or to anyone. No one will feel obligated to cheer me up or distract me, including myself. I can be as happy or sad as I want to be. I can sleep or shop or take in some sights. The one thing I will do though, is redefine my rest. When your rest is defined by one thing for nearly three decades, it will take some time to figure out what it will look like from here on out. So, the journey begins.