The sun warms my tear-stained cheeks this afternoon as I sit on the porch writing and reflecting. I am thankful for the hope of spring and that the end of winter in nigh. The winter of grief mirrors the elements of the season itself. The dark, cold nights draw me to those I love and I long to be close and feel the warmth of their presence as we snuggle by the fire and take in twinkling lights that Grace loved so much.
Although, as the long nights follow one after the other, there is a despair that can creep in. Grief is much like these moments of enduring darkness; when you feel like you cannot take another day of it. It is here frozen in memory and in the trauma of painful moments that a heart can grow weary, despondent, and fatigued. The winter of grief can feel like a cruel and bitter wind reminding me of the desolate feeling of isolation. The cold wind pricks through the tender layers built around such an aching heart. Buried deep in the ground, one can feel so alone.
Yet, if the heart can muster up enough courage to hold on one more day, minute, second, moment, the hope is that spring will come.
Like a seed growing into a shoot, the strength to rally enough fortitude to keep pushing up towards the surface is a miracle. I, like the bud, have endured this winter of grief twelve times now only by the grace of God. You would think it would be easier after twelve cycles. You would think that my heart would know the way. Even years later, I can assure you it takes courage to remember. To remember the beauty of her life while at the same time navigating around the trauma triggers, takes a learned skill.
Each year I watch her eulogy. It is always a bittersweet experience, reminding me that grief is not linear and is not bound by dualities. When I listen to the specifically chosen songs, see her smile for her Daddy, watch her play with her jungle gym, see all three of my babies together smiling, and see those beautiful eyes, I am reminded of the deep and wonderful love we shared. I too, am always in awe as I remember the army of family, friends and church that rallied (and continue to) around us and loved her and us so well.
It is here that the pain of remembering transforms into a friend, and the grief that was once a foe begins to thaw the frozen walls of winter, making way once again for new growth to spring forth. It seems counterintuitive that pain becomes healing, coldness becomes warmth, and that beauty does in fact rise from the ashes of a broken heart. It takes perseverance for the bud to bloom and although tight and dark within the bud, the expectancy of the blossom that awaits within causes enough pressure to ignite the process.
So, as I make space and sit with the beautiful pain of memory, I hold onto the hope that winter has almost passed, and that spring will come again.