Saturday, March 23, 2013

the jig is up.

What a mess grief has made. 

If you do not know me in person or do not know me very well, there's a little something you might not know about me. I like to appear put-together. In fact, I tend to keep a white knuckled grip on my desire to appear cool, calm, collected. All. The. Time. Oh, I joke that I'm a hot mess and I eat cereal for dinner and don't organize my closets, but if I'm being honest, it's a carefully approached messiness. I'm not a robot. I want to reveal some vulnerability. But only just so much. I would never dare to let just anyone into the real messiness of my life, the emotional messiness. Because I can't control what you see there. And I like to be in control of how I appear to the world. 

That whole routine was going pretty well for me. And then my Dad died. And the jig was up. There is no approaching this carefully. I'm not just an "I eat cereal for breakfast" hot mess anymore, I'm an "I ugly-cried on a a crowded airplane" hot mess. 

I am writing this from a place of real messiness. I can't tell my up from down most days and judging by the daily phone calls from my mom and siblings, neither can they. Don't misunderstand, we are a family of faith and I believe we are experiencing that peace that surpasses understanding that Paul describes in Philippians. But that doesn't mean we're not grieving. Some days feel foggy and pointless. Other days feel charged with purpose and the electricity of being alive. There are moments when I am caught unaware by the reminder of my Dad's absence and the pain is so sharp that my stomach aches. 

But most of all, and this will warrant it's own post (or two or nine), I am reeling from experiencing this loss while my husband is deployed. 

Because I am grieving and because R is gone and because it's all just a bit too much for me to carefully manage, I have simply had to admit defeat and realize that I don't have the energy to keep it all together. 

So I don't. And that's when something beautiful began happening. People have been meeting me where I'm at, surprising me with their compassion and kindness. My dog sitter generously watched Beau while I was home in WI free of charge. My boss prayed for me at work when I pretty much lost it in a meeting. A girl in my class hugged me in that way you just need to be hugged sometimes even if it's by a relative stranger. My squadron friend just listened while I talked about me hour after hour, nodding and not saying much, but listening and offering me the freedom to not be put together. 

My grief has stripped away the veneer. It has wiped away the pretense. It's created deep cracks in my 'put-together' act. Cracks where people are entering in and showing me love and community and messy holiness that is a salve to my very hurting heart. It's surprised me and softened my heart and made a mess out of all my put-togetherness. 

And I'm grateful to these people, and many more who are not named here and who I will try in the coming weeks to thank personally, for being Jesus with skin on and entering into my hurt with me. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

in which things have changed.

I was doing pretty good with that whole blogging every day for Lent thing. Then my life went a bit off the tracks. And things changed. 

On Tuesday, February 26th, my Dad had a a heart attack and passed away. 

My Dad, who I'd talked to the day before and who teased me about this post and why he didn't get special posts like that. My Dad who loved reading my work and encouraged me always to keep writing. My Dad who I was very close to and love very much. And things have changed. 

In the weeks that have followed, I contemplated scrapping the blog. In fact, in the wake of grief I've contemplated scrapping a lot of things. And for a few days, I did. I scrapped showering and getting out of bed and having intelligible conversations. But that's not how life works, I've found. Things change and whether we like it or not, we have to change with them. 

So I'm not scrapping the blog. And I'm pleased to announce that I have resumed showering! I am scrapping the 40 Day Project, only because I have way too many things to catch up on since I went off the grid. But I do plan to continue blogging. 

And if you'd like to join me, I plan on going a little deeper. Grief did a funny thing to me. It ripped away the veneer of 'put-togetherness' that I've worked so hard to build up. It only took a few snot-dripping, red-faced, ugly cries for me to throw off the self-importance of looking put together. I don't think I've ever pretended to be anything I'm not, on this blog or in life, but I do sometimes worry that if I veer into really honest territory in my writing or in my relationships, maybe people are going to scrunch their noses and roll their eyes and leave me to walk down that path all by myself. But things change and life is too short to keep holding back, worrying that what pours from my heart to my keyboard isn't worth sharing. Maybe it isn't, but my heart beats to write and to share and so I will. 

Thank you for reading and not rolling your eyes and walking down that honest, not so put together path with me. It's certainly better with a little company.