once upon a time | grief then and now

 Photo by  Alessio Lin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

In looking my hidden archives for a post to share today, this is the first I clicked on; The further most post written in the month of January. It is so relevant that it speaks to grief and tells the story of my seeing Finding Neverland in the theater with my daughters and how Peter Pan has one of my favorite read aloud experiences. 

My father died in November 2004. These are the words I wrote less than two months later. I had no understanding of what normal grieving looked like. I had no support system though I should have ... the church more than failed me during this time. In the timeline of my life, this is when I started pulling away, questioning. 2005 was a turning point and I think it all hinged on the moment of abandonment when my father died. 

It was evident then and now that people do not understand grief and they do not understand how to help those who are grieving. How to be present, how to listen, how to allow. My support system this time has been strong. I wouldn't dare to make a list of humans who have stepped up and stepped in because I would miss someone. I am grateful for each and every act of kindness. I am grateful too for the awareness that I have from crappy past experiences, for how I've been able to reach for help in different ways that simply were not available in 2004. 

Still though, grief is a lonely journey. Even when people are here wanting and trying to help, each one of us has our own steps to take through grief.  

Sunday thoughts

On a scale of one to ten, today was a seven. That is so much better than it has been. I have been operating in the three - four range lately. It was still difficult but there were bright spots and I am feeling encouraged. Katie and I went to church. Katie drove. She is getting more confident and I am feeling more relaxed with her driving. I predict in just a matter of weeks, she will have her license. I really didn't feel a whole lot like dancing and leading praise and worship with flags and dance today. At times like this, I just have to be obedient. I know that God inhabits the praises of His people and if I could just find the strength to enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, He would show himself mighty. True to His word, His healing balm began to flow over my painful soul.

Just before service started a lady from church stopped me to ask how I am doing. I hardly know her . . . really only know her name. She knows about Daddy's death though because it was printed in the bulletin back when it happened. I quickly spilled all of my struggles out to her. I haven't really told anyone about how I have been feeling . . . not just the sadness, that is to be expected . . . but the resentment and the anger. She assured me that this is all the grieving process. I asked her to pray specifically for Chris. I know this is difficult for him. I know that he loves me and he is probably full of bewilderment at my behavior toward him. I am just as confused though. I don't understand why I feel so much angst toward him. Ah, but today has been better.

I didn't pay close attention during the sermon. Mostly, I just did some free writing, trying to get my emotions down on the paper, trying to make sense of it all. During ministry time after the sermon, I just sat on the pew. I felt rather numb. Not in a bad way, but I just sat and observed what was going on around me. One of the youth leaders came and asked me if I was ok . . . and I just tried to smile and I nodded yes. She then said, "I miss my joyful Cyndi." ::::sigh:::: on the one hand, I am glad that I exude joy to people, I am glad I am such an encouragement to them . . . but on the other hand, I want the freedom to have down days, to feel less than joyous on occasion, to have a mood. But I know she was trying to help and I love her for it.

Katie, Amber and I went to the movies after church. We went to see Finding Neverland. It was such a great movie. I was totally drawn in from the beginning. First, Peter Pan has to be my favorite children's book and my most treasured memory of reading aloud to my children is while reading that book. This has been about 4 1/2 years ago. I was on the last chapter of the book. Peter Pan has come back to get Wendy and she is an adult now. She tells him that she can't go with him, that she is ever too old. My oldest was about 16 at the time and I realized how quickly they had all grown up. I began to cry. I could hardly read the sentences. I was sitting on the floor, trying to read, holding Logan (who was about 9 months old) in my lap and Amber (who was about 16) got up and came and sat behind me and held me from behind. I sat there, with my oldest holding me as I held my youngest and just cried and cried. So, yes, Peter Pan is my favorite.

In this movie, Peter is so literal and pragmatic. The cruelties of life have almost stolen his childhood belief, dreams and imaginations. Oh, I can relate. Here I am now, at 40 years old, and I lament the loss of my childhood, how early it was taken from me. I am trying to get it back now. Retrieve the wonder of the world, the newness of it all, the beauty in the small things. On that level, the movie pierced my heart and inspired me to breath deeply of the life I have been given. Yes. I must.

Tomorrow is my new day . . . a new list will be made . . . new pursuits, new goals, new year. I am looking forward to it all. 2004 was the year of transition. Just like transition during the labor to birth a child, it was a most difficult year. But now is the time, the time to push. It will be hard work but it will be fruitful work and in the end, a dream will be birthed. I will look deep into the eyes of my passion and fall in love. I will hold that dream and know that I will do anything to protect it, I will die, I will fight, I will live . . . just to hold onto that dream. I will not let anyone take it from me . .. it is my dream.

Ten minutes has come and gone many times. I plan to make it an early evening so that I might awaken in the morning and greet the new day, the new week, the new year.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
— washington irving