Travel is my greatest passion. Tomorrow I am embarking on my first big trip since I lost my mom. Excitement is an understatement; preparing for this trip has brought me back to life in a huge way.
Afterwards will be on hold for a month, but my travel journal (my very favorite way to write) can be found here, under the “Italy, Ireland, Japan” map and journals section.
Happy May! Ciao! :)
We always want to protect those we love, don’t we? Grief generally feels like it’s about us – our pain; our void; our not knowing how to get by – but many parts of it stem from the fierce instinct to protect our loved one. I had no idea this was true until recently.
It was almost the third anniversary of losing her; I was outside pushing a lawnmower, earbuds in, enjoying some time with my thoughts. I don’t want to say I heard a voice… it was more that some words interrupted my daydreaming. There were only two of them: I’m okay. The phrase wasn’t audible, but it certainly felt outside of my own thought process. It brought to mind a picture of my mom – peaceful and calm, looking at me with a smile, repeating, I’m okay.
It wasn’t as mystical of an experience as it may sound, but the words carried a lot of power. They offered me a reassurance that I didn’t know I needed. It hit me that for three years I’d been unable to let go of the fear I’d felt for her. It wasn’t conscious, but I’d been fervently trying to protect her since she closed her eyes that day, clenching on to things that would have affected her here on earth, carrying them as my own battles. It would pain her to miss this, she would be hurt by those words, it would break her heart for us to move on in that way… Is she at peace? Can she see us? Is she okay with what we’re doing?
Jennelle, I’m okay.
I believed it.
We are wired to fight for our own, it is perhaps one of the most beautiful human qualities. But, with loved ones lost and loved ones still around us, there is also a time at which we need to let go; to know that we are not the hero – we are not in control. No matter how hard it is to believe, we must know that things outside of our power are sometimes more powerful than us – sometimes the brave thing is to let go of the fight.
Releasing these things has allowed me the space to confront my own battle (a very scary, messy lot of fears). Instead of fighting for two of us, I am able to accept the idea of her walking along side of me, helping me to navigate the course. I am free to keep living; to keep moving forward, and even to enjoy it.
Special occasions are said to be most difficult during the first year. They are hard; you don’t know how to go about anything, you don’t know how it will feel, you miss them. So much.
The second year was almost more difficult for me though. It’s the second year when you discover they are really gone, and always will be. The second year I thought okay, she’s missing things now! That was the hard part.
The third go round feels different still. But, as far as I can tell, it brings with it a much greater amount of peace. You learn how to make them a part of things while they are absent. You understand a little bit more fully that they are here, and that happy occasions don’t deserve to be sad occasions forever.
On this, my “third” birthday, I wake up feeling happy and alive. Hopeful. She’s closer now than in the past two years, this can only mean bright things for years still to come.