Grief is not foreign to me; me and pain, we go way back. Even a seasoned soul like mine is still taken back by the unexpected and inconvenient moments when grief seems to explode like a bomb going off.
With no mercy, it consumes like a flame to oxygen.
Last week I woke hours before the sun to prepare for the day, walking to class, breathing in the spring air sipping my hot tea, waving at the locals and smiling an occasional Spanish greeting, "Hola."
The air felt new and clean; the morning smelled of hope, I smiled to myself. I am consistently thankful to get to spend my hours and my days living with purpose. I do not take this call lightly; it is common for me to spend months to prepare for one week of teaching.
For almost 30 years I have known grief as subtle and sneaky, slowly seducing me into sorrow until the weight brings the warm tears. There is healing in distress; all the weeping brings release. But today, without warning a thought consumed my mind, my pace slowed, a memory flashed again, and my heart began to ache. I did not see the right hook, followed immediately by the front jab of grief punching me right in the face; it was a sudden, searing pain, a shocking awareness of profound loss.
"Please God, not now," I begged as my heels clicked on the cobblestone street, and I turned to enter the school. At that very moment, there was a classroom full of eager, engaged and precious young ones waiting for me to lead them. These students are not just part of my job; they are an extension of my tribe; they have invaded my heart. My pace quickens as I struggle to control my emotions, knowing that just past the glass doors my sweet ones were waiting for inspiration to flow from me, with vulnerability, grace, and truth.
I began to question my ability to stand or speak, let alone inspire. How is could I show myself to be vulnerable and yet composed? How could I walk in excellence when my soul felt shattered?
Grief can make you question your strength; at times it feels too violent to overcome.
Grief can feel rather cruel as it washes over you like a wave to powerful to stand in, a tsunami that knocks you to the floor of the sea and demands the air from your lungs. The deep sorrow strikes and weakens you, at the very moment you need to be steady and reliable as you stand before a crowd that has gathered to hear what you have to say.
Grief seems to rear its head when you take extra time to prepare your appearance; still, the tears soak the linen blouse that you starched and pressed early in the morning. Grief can humble you and sabotage your expectations of flawlessness when mascara turns the weeping to little black streams that destroy your powdered face.
Once again I am humbled and reminded of the vulnerability that comes with being human.
This pain takes on different shapes, and at times it can only be seen as brilliantly tragic like when the sunrise appears so is so majestic over the Mediterranean sea that I question if I have never seen these shades before.
I wonder, "Was this sunrise created just for me?"
Clearly, I have not been abandoned by God.
Grief shows up when I am holding my man's hand as we walk together, in a moment of sadness, I realize how deeply in love I am. I love this man who grieves with me, this man that gives his life to me, laying all that he is before me as a sacrifice of humility; he does this daily in a million simple ways, no matter the cost to his soul.
Grief is in the heavy sigh that you release when you realize that you are truly happy, bizarrely so, and in walking in a peace that you can not explain, at least not with words.
Yes, the grief is still present, even though it has been six years since I embraced my son and looked into his intense and brilliant blue eyes.
Grief is merely the evidence of longing for what you have lost.
My family and I still grieve. Grief is always present for the very reason that it has been six years since we have held Michael and looked deeply into his sparkling blue eyes. The more time that passes, the more we realize what Michael is missing. The more additions to our family the more we ache for Michael to see.
Grief is in the parts of your heart that are shattered and in the elements of your heart that are fully alive and thriving. Pain hits you in the same moment you realize that God is redeeming your brokenness, and healing your entire tribe, your wild-tribe, the one you love with all that you are and all that you have.
The depths of Grief cannot exist without the depths of Love.
The Grief is there because it belongs there. You are free when you no longer wait for the day the grief ends and dissipates; instead, you embrace it and hold it close within walls of your heart, and allow the loss to expand the love that has no bounds.