Have you ever watched a movie where a thief in the night came and took the home by surprise? Or perhaps you have even experienced that yourself? Being totally caught off guard by one?
Yesterday, I compared grief in my life to a thief in the night.
Grief can often times catch me by surprise, when I am least expecting it. Yesterday was such a moment for me.
I have an empathetic heart. I feel what others feel. Really and truly. Some moments that is good, other times it can be a challenge. When a person I know loses someone close to them, I feel it, and that grief wraps around me and catches me off guard like a thief in then night. The freshness of what it is to lose a loved one pushes back in. This transpires in a different way each time, but nonetheless, is resurrected. I was struck by a moment like that yesterday when a person I don't even know all that well lost her dad; the waves of remembrance washed over me like the tide coming in.
The moments of those remembrances were coupled with a task I did later in the day as well. I was cleaning out a space at (mom/and) dad's house, and the grief snuck in on me in an unexpected manner, and took me by surprise. I found myself standing in the middle of the room, holding papers that were lined with mom's handwriting, tears falling freshly. The papers, I know, had not been touched since she'd lost her handwriting skills in the last months. I sifted through them one by one, even though they were not of significant value. The pages simply had names on them, but nonetheless, the penmanship of mom brought about reminders of what I no longer have in the moment- mom's words. Her neat penmanship being rediscovered yesterday in a new fashion was like hearing her laughter surround me, knowing that at the moment of what she was writing, she was most likely also laughing and enjoying herself. I was taken back to a moment in time, which I did not even experience, but by the simple crisp cursive of my mom, I could see the moment. Among those papers, I also found one of mom's song books. She had a friend with whom she would get together and they would sing scripture. It was mom's way of memorizing God's words. I can remember doing tasks around the house and hearing the two of them sit at the table, going over these songs and discussing what the scripture meant. In finding this book, I paged through it and could hear mom's voice, another beautiful moment that also brought fresh tears. Mom loved to sing, and in her last months had lost that ability, but often times I would sit by her side and sing to her. In the pages of the book, were dates lightly scripted. Mom recorded the days she would "memorize" that scripture. The next book lying under the songbook was a favorite of my mom's. The Teenie Weenies , it is called. That was a book mom would read to us as kids time and again. So much so all the pages are falling out. It happened to be book her mom read to her. The year? 1917. It was my grandmother's book originally. I was wrapped in moments of memories for a short time, sifting through a pile of mom's things, and caught off guard by the surprise of grief. 3 years have passed since mom has gone, and that grief still finds its crevices. It creeps in or sometimes startles me like the thief would, in ways I least expect.
Grief is like that. A Thief in the night. Comes to steal a moment when it's least expected. I used to hate that, but I have come to accept it. It's part of the process of healing. It is part of the journey of growth. If you have never experienced grief, it is a difficult concept to grasp. It would be like telling one who had their house robbed they could just use insurance to replace the things stolen. But sometimes things... or in the case of grief, a person or memory.... is irreplaceable. Without a value or price tag.
But just as the tide washes in and out during the day, those moments of grief also wash away and pass. Instead of sitting like a festering pool of water, they move with the cycle of life, and that is how it should be. A moment stolen in time, a reason to pause and have a moment for a tear, and then smile over the remembrance of what mom has left for us to find, without her or us even knowing those things would become a significant pause for a moment in the day. That's the nature of grief- it will catch one by surprise, hold its moment in time and then fade away, never really knowing when it might creep back in. The moment of tears yesterday has turned to a now reason to smile and remember. And for that, I am grateful for uncovering the simple sheets of paper and books yesterday and being taken by surprise, like a thief in the night, and like the waves of the ocean that come and go.