Tomorrow I will kiss my toddler goodbye, leave him with his sweet aunt, and get in a car with my other best friend to drive to the funeral home where my husbands’ memorial was held. I will hold her hand as I walk inside and hug my amazingly brave neighbor, and I will sit among friends as we say goodbye to another wonderful man. Most likely this will bring a flood of unwelcome memories from my husbands service where my loved ones remembered his life and my sister held me up as I fell apart.
This funeral comes just four days after I sat among another group of friends to say goodbye to a beautiful child who will forever hold a place in many hearts. To say this week has been difficult for me is a gross understatement. It has been wrought with sorrow, pain, anxiety, and deep reflection. It has been a week that has ripped my heart open and reminded me just how painful, brutal, unfair, and raw life can be.
Seeing a police car parked outside the house next door knowing its purpose a few nights ago has brought me back to the most difficult time in my life. The very next day watching another woman grieve one life while fiercely protecting the life growing inside her belly has reminded me that grief does not refrain from visiting anyone. It doesn’t wait patiently until it is convenient for the grieving. It strikes unexpectedly … and there is no way to prepare.
I could let the multiple panic attacks, waves of overwhelming grief, and anger at the universe win. I could let all of that swallow everything joyful in my life and remain on the bathroom floor hyperventilating forever. Instead, as reminded by a courageous mother and friend, I will choose joy. I will choose to show my son that sometimes life is unexpectedly hard, but love can prevail. I can teach him that we must show up for the people we love even in our darkest moments and hold their hands as they pick up the pieces and move forward. I want to show him that it is okay to fall apart if we need to, but important that we find a way to pick ourselves up and love each other.
This week has reminded me that even the smallest gesture can have an unseen impact. It has reminded me to be brave in every moment, not just when it is easy. Sometimes we need to show up when we don’t know if we have the strength to do so. Sometimes we have to consciously choose joy and fight for the beauty in life. So I will let this week show me just how brave the people I love are. It will remind me just how strong a mothers’ love can be. I will allow myself grace as I process these losses, but remember the beautiful people they were and the impact they have made on so many lives.
I will reflect on the fact that even though I know this week has been even more brutal on some, my village has stepped up to hold my hand and help me show up for my friends. I know I can’t take away their sorrow, or fix their broken hearts, but I can sit next to them and listen to the stories of the wonderful people they loved. I can wrap my arms around them and hold them up for just a second so they can fall apart if they need to.
I will continue to be humbled by my friends who have stepped in this week and asked how they could help me even when I feel undeserving. I will be brave enough to ask for help, to do hard things, and to love fiercely. Most importantly, this week I will choose to show up when friends need me to and show them that not only am I here for them, but I am forever grateful for the times that they have shown up for me. Love, joy, and hope should always win.