The nature of my writing has grown with the changes I have gone through on my grief journey. Early on, it was so incredibly painful to even try to put words together to express my pain. I understood for the first time how God could hear our prayers when all we can manage are groans. Once the words started, it was like releasing a torrent. My pain literally fell onto the pages and it was emotionally exhausting…for me, and for you as well. The release was cathartic. The more I let it go, the more my heart healed.
Not everyone has a blog where they can release the pent up pain, anger, frustration, confusion that comes with grief. I am blessed with this venue and I don’t take any of you for granted. Your feedback and support has been so incredibly healing for me. I am blessed with family and friends who were supportive during the early months of my grief. The day Mr. Virgo died and I called my daughters, they dropped what they were doing and jumped in their cars to begin the long drive to be with me. They stayed by my side. They answered the phone for me. They made important calls. They took me everywhere I needed to go. Daughter #1 slept with me every night with her arm across my chest to protect me, to calm me, to reassure me I was not alone.
People gathered and surrounded me with love and support and food. My daughters and I bought every funny DVD we could find and tried to find someplace to land besides terror and pain. My friends held me in silence…the same friends who dressed me for my wedding and placed the flowers all around. Here they were…nearly six years to the day…doing the only thing they could do. After we lay Mr. Virgo in the ground, we gathered at our home…my home. I went straight to the humidor and got the expensive cigar he was saving for golf in the summer. I grabbed the bottle of Courvoisier I had used for Mr. Virgo’s favorite fruitcake. And I gathered the men…and my younger daughter. She was particularly close to her stepdad. We went to the front porch and smoked the cigar, and passed the bottle around till it was gone. We told manly stories of golf and travel, hotels and restaurants…all things Mr. Virgo.
After everyone left, the family gathered me up and took me to a restaurant to entice me to eat. I hadn’t had much of anything but coffee for days. It was the day before St. Patrick’s Day…a fine day to be buried, Mr. Virgo would have said. My daughters needed to get back to Denver. Daughter #1 offered to stay longer if I needed her. And while I did…desperately…I said no. I knew she needed to get back to her own family…her own life. And so, just like that, they were gone. And the house became quiet.
I stayed home alone for a week. I had paperwork to do and some things to wrap up at work. I packed a bag, stopped my mail, and headed to Denver to be near the kids. My son-in-law’s parents kept me at their home. I don’t remember the first week I was there…except that I didn’t get dressed for a week and only occasionally ventured out of the room for a little food. I slept much of the time. Finally, I started to join the land of the living again.
Slowly…ever so slowly…I moved forward. Days became weeks and week, months. The firsts started…my first birthday without him, his birthday, the holidays. Our wedding anniversary was just three weeks after he died. People called to see how I was doing. They sent cards and texts and checked in with me on Facebook. One of my daughter’s friends from high school contacted me every week for the first year. And eventually…they all moved on. It was inevitable. They can’t stay forever. They can’t stop their lives forever.
At first, I was really put out. I still needed to vent. I still needed to cry. I needed to tell every story, a hundred times. I needed so much. I needed more than they could ever give. I have to say, I never felt completely abandoned. I am blessed to have the most fabulous people in my life who would listen to me even today if I called and cried. However…I did feel “like a burden”, as one of my readers put it. I didn’t want to unload on them all the time. Somehow, I managed to reach that tipping point where I realized I needed to start managing this pain on my own. That was a really lonely stretch. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have to sit in that “waiting room” (as my friend Christina Rasmussen calls it in her book, Second Firsts) forever, but I had no idea how long I’d be in this social limbo. I wanted to stay alone forever AND I wanted to be with people. I wanted to be invited out AND I wanted to never talk to another soul. I wanted to feel normal AND I didn’t want to feel anything. Oh….grief is crazy making.
I had to have something to hang onto…something, someONE, who would anchor me and keep me from flying off the face of the earth. Even though I had been a Christian for seven years, I only attended church sporadically. One Sunday morning, many months after Mr. Virgo died, I decided I needed to talk to someone who never tired of hearing my cries. Someone who would give and give and give…no matter how much I needed. Who would love me no matter how messy or messed up I got. I went back to church…and I’ve been going ever since.
As much as people want to help…they are people. They are fallible. They can say the wrong things. They can feel overwhelmed by your pain. They can burn out from your grief. But God? God never gets tired of hearing from you. God never gets tired of comforting you. He never gets tired of holding you close. Greater is the one who lives within me than the one who lives in the world. God is the one…the only one who will always, always love you. Even when you cry that horrible snot-slinging cry that no one needs to see. Even when you are so anxious you stay up puking all night. Even when your life seems not worth living. The only way you can lose is to give up. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Because joy comes again. It sneaks in the cracks of your broken heart when you least expect it. Not all at once…just a little tiny bit at a time. But it comes, dear one. Hang on…it comes. ❤️
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4 NIV
#God, #Love, #Light