I’m listening to the early morning sounds of my babies waking up. My parents are here, so I’m given the privilege of sleeping in when they begin to stir. There are whispers of conversations because they know Mommy is sleeping. Or trying to. Soft and tender words spoken just to themselves and their imaginations, unaware and unhindered by self-consciousness. Something about sharing and lunch and babies. The little patters down the hallway rush to get this or that. Faint sounds of electronics let me know they are piled up in the living room — our Mario Bros and Transformer “tech” paired with some intermittent rattling I’m now convinced is a toy mixer. There’s that thick cough I’ve been concerned about. The on-and-off of the air conditioner briefly dims the sounds and now I can hear the Weather Channel forecasting the day. And maybe the dishwasher.
They are the sounds of normal. And so very daunting. I know getting up will get easier. I know moving will get easier. I know the fatigue will lessen and the sleep will become more sound and the rising of the sun will just get easier. But now it’s so daunting.
When I hear these sounds, I’m so intimidated and overwhelmed to face them. Yes, it’s intimidating to think of dealing with their grief in whatever unexpected ways it comes out and the sadness I know they feel. But, more than that, it’s their overwhelming normal-ness I’m not sure I’m ready for. They are SO glaringly normal. Their blessed youth and innocence of this life makes normal so much larger for them and unquestioned. They are still young enough to be a little confused by time and place. And absence. And so today is just Saturday, like most Saturdays. A new day.
They deserve this day. This new day. They deserve that great luxury called normal. And as I continue to listen — someone’s winning a race with Bowser and Baby Girl has chosen another puzzle — I can almost know the sound of normal in my own spirit. It’s only a faint rumble. And it brings this strange guilt and shame and sorrow and loss. Which I know is all, yes, normal. Hearing it, I can almost be ready for this day. This ridiculously normal Saturday. I can almost be excited for this new day with them. Almost. And almost is something. It’s something.
“The Lord’s mercies indeed never cease. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.”
Before I say goodbye to the Crayola markers in my monthly blog header next week, I thought I would show the full photo. I can’t see it without thinking of my 4-year-old and the masterpieces she leaves throughout my notebooks.
Is it ok to write about this? I’m asking myself that question — almost afraid to ask anyone else for fear their shock might escape. And I would hear their shush that this should be private. Because it is so unspeakable.
Is it ok to write about it? And expose such a gaping but multi-layered wound to the world’s scrutiny? My husband is dead. One week ago he ended his life. He chose to leave this world. And our three children. And me. And any hope of our family. Now I’m facing his choice after so many years of living and loving and moving and working and creating and answering and questioning and accepting and raging with him in this struggle. A struggle that made me hate him. And love him. And pressure him. And comfort him. Years of relearning and protecting and coping. Of being so proud of his effort. And so frustrated by his continued battle. At times with laughter and hope and the stretching of our faith. At times with silence and disappointment and stubbornness. All in a sea of thinking and thinking. So much thinking. Now his struggle is done. And mine is born again with a much larger and more daunting face.
Even as I write these things, I know it’s so much more complicated than what I can articulate. What I already recognize I’ll never know is so very much more complicated than anything I can say in these early moments. I’ve always used writing as a window to help me fling open the realities in my own soul. So that I could look at them. In some sort of logical way and glean some kind of larger truth or pattern. Now, in these days of realities that seem to defy any logic, I wonder. Am I able to write them? Do I have the courage to turn the screw in what I know will unplug a whole well of thoughts and emotions and realities and maybe truths? Can I give myself permission to embrace stigma and shame and sorrow to write these stories? I don’t know beyond today, but I do know one thing.
Our healing begins with this: We are alive. WE ARE ALIVE. And each day that we choose this precious life we’ve been given is a victory. Simply choosing to experience this life in whatever painful or joyous or even unspeakable way it presents itself may be the only victory I experience today. Just waking up and choosing to move may be my day’s only victory. But, I’ll take it. I’LL TAKE IT. And use it as fuel to claim the next one. Until that which I know without question is true replaces the doubts. Until I conquer each demon that dominates my thinking. Until I peel away each and every layer of all these complicated emotions. Until I see them surpassed with new joy and new hope and new living. Until the very best I know of this kind and gentle man called Mike rises to the surface to live in our memories. Until we laugh and run and leap and shout and sing. Until I KNOW. And believe. And embrace this one profound fact: WE ARE ALIVE.
An old warehouse in Downtown Memphis, TN
Font Crush alert! Lately I’ve been so enamored by the PORTAGOL ITC font. Stencil-type fonts aren’t always cool, but I love the narrow scale of this one and the uneven-ness of the lines. It just reminds me of literal hand-stenciling — hand-crafting, hand-built. That’s a lot to ask from a digital font ;). I used it this summer as part of this logo for a client’s Low Country-themed food and beer event, and I’ve been looking for excuses to use it ever since. [And I’m not above manufacturing an excuse!] If you’re looking for a look that’s crafty and earthy, mixed with a little grunge, this may be a good download.