Still Can’t Say It


I want to be one of those people who has a terrific birthday with a happy photo and in the afterglow of the moment can’t help but exclaim that they are the luckiest person in the world. It almost seems like it could fit but I choke on the word “luckiest” and I worry I am just not mature enough to realize it.

Truly there are some pretty amazing things about my life. More accurately people, pretty amazing people IN my life.

Some I have known for forever or close to it. Relationships forged in the naive years and awkward stages. Many family and friends that influenced me as I grew up and knew me before I had faced adulthood.

Some that I only met after I was half of a whole. Those who watched me as I learned what the sacrifice of being a wife really meant. And watched my better half pick me up time and time again and reassuringly set me back on my feet. As the security of his love prepared the way for deep change.

Some who were witnesses to the metamorphosis that motherhood brought in my heart and the peace that grew in my relationship with my husband and increased after every new child. Watching how the love for my children penetrated through the thick exterior I had placed around my self.

Some friends are only in my life because of my late husband and his work and passions. Giving proof of the depth of his character and the value of investing in people.

Some are part of my life because they watched my world self destruct and chose to step in and become pillars in my reformed foundation. People who saw me at my lowest and decided to pursue me and make us a priority.

Some are individuals who saw a need or a service that they could provide. And as they used their gifting and expertise to serve a friendship blossomed.

Some are complete strangers who have taken a risk to reach out and say that they hurt for us and they care for us and they pray.

Each of these groups of people from the past or present have been so integral in my journey. From the beginning, but especially on this freshly paved road of grief that is so full of pitfalls and surprises.

There are two relationships that stand apart in this army. The youngest and arguably the strongest. The ones who have witnessed horrors and heartbreak beyond comprehension. Little beings who have the least in quantity of life experience or maturity and yet they have continued to exceed expectations. Their capacity for trust and compassion puts me to shame. Their willingness to forgive and for self denial is inspiring.

And because of all of these people, because of my boys, I feel like I should be able to freely express my gratitude at my great fortune. I wish that the thanksgiving came easy. But it doesn’t. It is gut wrenching and pitiful. And even when through all these relationships I know and feel the bounty in my life I still hesitate at that word.

Somehow it still feels dishonouring to the other people I loved to throw “luckiest” around.

Almost There

I am aware that today, and this past week, our social media feeds have been packed with back-to-school pictures. And I almost hate to bog you down with one more, especially since I was only moderately successful in getting a good shot of my boys’ first day at school this morning, but as I scrolled through my limited options I was overcome.

And not so much because I couldn’t believe how old they have gotten, what grades they are in or that it feels like it was only yesterday that they were in diapers; but because this is the second ‘first’ day that we have done without Colin and without Madeline. It is surreal to think that we have been plodding through life for this long with such a gaping hole in our chests. We have arrived at a point that this big day isn’t a “first” anymore. I know that this past summer holiday was technically our second without them, but to be honest so much of the previous summer was in a haze that it all still felt unfamiliar.

Now that the novelty of every first is over the raw emotion is right there with no cushion or diversion. Just the overwhelming fact that this is real life. This is our new normal and maybe not even that, as most things take much less than a year to have the shiny mint condition worn off. More accurately our altered normal which continues to change each season.

I anticipate that the uncooperative photo session this morning is a bit of foreshadowing for year two. Each of us has many things to work through. Some things that are untried and some things that are old aquatints with fresh faces. But this is the hope, right? That we would move through our stages and deal with our issues and heal. That we keep trudging through the grief moving farther and farther away from Colin and Madeline. Yet there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to leave this spot, that even wants to go back. Because that anguish is what I know and I’ve almost managed to get comfortable there or at least imagine it would be more bearable then the distance of a second year.

 My practical and optimistic side reminds me that this can’t be totally true. That we will survive another year as we keep putting one foot in front of the other. We may hit a few more speed bumps or potholes, but that is expected. Or maybe not, maybe it will just be the same ones and we will just feel them more or actually recognize that they are there.  

Either way I am trusting that time will build strength and that each day is actually bringing me closer.

At least I captured one where they are both smiling.