Two-thousand-fourteen, you have been by far the most difficult year of my life. That phrase doesn’t adequately express the hardship and gut wrenching sadness that has quite literally at times brought me to my knees. Or left me writhing on the floor. Or walking around San Francisco for hours. The holidays are often a time for reflection, especially the new year. A common phrase in my mind lately is Is this really my life? Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m 27 and have had all the experiences of this year. I’m 27 and celebrated my third wedding anniversary without my husband, because he died of aggressive lung cancer. My humble, loving, hilarious, goofy husband who loved me from a bottomless well in the depths of his soul. I miss him. His essence. His arms. His encouragement.
My mantra for this year has been, increasingly, ‘Life is really hard, and God helps you do it.’ Every day I come to believe this more. I’m realizing that every day that I live without Sean, I’m actively stepping into a new life. The decisions I make, who I choose to be around, where I live, what I eat for dinner- every detail and choice I make is a small etch in the new life I am carving out for myself. And I feel really proud of myself for doing it. I don’t know if anyone can really understand unless you’ve been in the same position. I feel like I am actively re-orienting my entire life, and nothing is left untouched. Nothing remains the same. It is an incredibly difficult and weighty task, and I am doing it. I am not running away, or escaping reality. I am slowly and steadily taking each step as it comes and walking forward. Even thought it’s hard and I’m tired, and I wish I didn’t have to, and I wish Sean could help me with decisions, I am doing it.
And I feel very courageous.
And God is helping me in each step.
After my trip to L.A. for my anniversary, I came home to a month of intense depression and overwhelming sadness. There was not a day that didn’t bring tears and silent screams into my pillow. I pretty much was a faucet that wouldn’t turn off. After that time, I found myself moving into a different phase that I never could describe very well. I wasn’t crying nearly as much, and days would even go by without tears, but I definitely did not feel upbeat at all. The only way I thought to describe it was ‘firmly planted.’ The expression of my feelings was dulled a little bit, but I still was depressed and not feeling great about anything. And for whatever reason, I knew I wasn’t moving from that state and was okay with that. Firmly planted. When talking with my counselor about it she asked, “What would you want to say to God?”
You’re going to have to come to me, because I can’t move from where I’m at.
That’s all I could think to say. That’s all I could say. And in that quiet moment of stillness, a picture came to my mind. It was from my first-person point of view, standing on a high mountain, looking out. A soft fog rolled in to me, enveloping me in cool cloud. I remember that image often, as a picture of God coming all the way to me. I don’t have to move, or reach. He comes all the way, to whatever place I am in, however dark or firmly planted.
Isn’t that what Christmas is? God came to humanity. I love this about God because I often don’t know how to reach out or feel like I can’t. Or he feels too far. I am learning how to talk to him in those moments of being firmly planted. That I can express to him my feelings and process, always. And how to sit with him in all of my intense feelings. Believe me, I am NOT the person that sees visions or speaks in tongues or whatever. But I am so thankful that God is with me, and I can see that in this past year more than ever in my life. I am learning how to be with the God that is with me, instead of praying cerebrally to a God who is somewhere out there, far away.
I am so thankful for the friends and people in my life that God is using to help me along in this process. And for the house I am able to live in. I am thankful for my families that I got to spend these difficult holidays with. I am so thankful for the time to really acknowledge and articulate all the emotions on this roller coaster. I am thankful that I knew Sean, and he knew me. I’m thankful for the journey that we walked together. For the life we carved out for ourselves. For the strength to carve out my own. I’m thankful God is with me in this process.
Two thousand fourteen, you really sucked. You brought a great deal of stress and heartache. I know that moving forward into a new year and a new life is not going to be easy either. It’s going to be uphill, but I feel firm in each step.
It’s hard. I’m doing it. God is helping me.