As I have been working on telling this story, I went back and read all my journals from 1985. Once I was past the initial stages of the grieving process, I jumped back into real life with both feet. I resumed leadership of a women’s group. I continued to volunteer at my children’s small private school. I did laundry, cooked meals, and cared for my family. My private conversation with myself and God, captured in those pages, reveal both a deep love for the people whose lives mine touched and a numbness somewhere inside myself that I could not force to disappear.
Excerpts from my journal:
March 2, 1986 - My emotions are going haywire. I feel like I’m running down a road. At one point I’m happy, then I’m upset and hurt, then I’m frustrated and angry, then I’m sad. All the time running down the road at a speed so fast I don’t have a chance to deal with each emotion.
Mother’s Day, May 1986 - I want to scream. I don’t want to be “chosen”. I want to be obscure. I don’t want to have faith or be part of the great purposes of God. I wish I could go out into a forest and be alone and be left alone and be quiet and not have to have faith.
At once my older eyes want to cry out to my younger self, “You don’t have to do all this! Give yourself time to recover.” And I wonder why someone didn't say those words to me. I wonder if I would have listened if they had. Of course, you can’t just stop everything when you have a husband and three small children. Cliff was very understanding, never pressing me to be okay. It was me that pressed.
I have always expected a lot of myself, perhaps as a result of my upbringing. Those expectations make me a very reliable, responsible person. Not all a bad thing, but there are times when you have to cut yourself some slack. The grieving process is one of those times.
With nearly thirty years more life experience, I think I understand a few things better than I did then. And yet, this last month as I have walked through the grieving process once again, I still find myself with the same problem—thinking I should be able to accomplish all the things on my to do list in a reasonable fashion. And I can’t. My brain doesn't want to hold all the information that I feed it. My body needs more rest than usual. Although I understand the steps of the grieving process, and have embraced them, and have found a place of peace in relationship to my Daddy not being around anymore, the effects of that process are profound, even when I feel peaceful.
It is as though every part of me needs to work through the healing process—not just my emotions, but my body and my mind and my spirit, as well. Repercussions, undulating waves that spread slowly to the farthest shore of who I am, and must be weathered, watched, and acknowledged with grace.