“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” — Washington Irving
Not to brag, but I have a pretty good life. I have a husband who — for reasons that still escape me to this day — adores me, two unbelievably beautiful children whom I adore — for reasons that do not escape me in the slightest — and a home and job that bring me comfort and contentment.
Sure, I sometimes dream of winning the lottery, paying off all of our debt and securing our future.
Mega Millions notwithstanding, I have a quality of life that is to be envied, although I admittedly don’t appreciate it as much as I should.
But it took a long time to get here, and the journey to this point has not always been easy and not always happy.
In 2013, my life simply fell apart. I was almost three years into my new life in the Sunshine State, and in the first year of a new job in Citrus County.
On Valentine’s Day of that year, my grandfather — the man who every other man in my life has been measured against — died unexpectedly after a short battle with cancer. A month later, the greatest dog to ever live and my 10-year companion, Stella, died following a long battle with congestive heart failure. In August, my grandmother died six months after her husband. Less than three weeks later, my mother died after a decades-long fight against Alzheimer’s.
I wish I could tell you I persevered, that I overcame the loss, taking in stride the wreckage of my family, the sheer devastation that had been unleashed upon my life.
I languished in my grief.
Well-meaning family members, friends and co-workers would tell me that I would get past this, that one day, I would be able to move on.
But I still grieve to this day. I have not, in fact, moved on, nor have I gotten past it.
I am thankful for my grief because it has been the single greatest motivator of my current happiness.
Had my unlucky ’13 not happened, I would not have left my job in Citrus County, which despite the enjoyment I derived from my work, was a constant reminder of every phone call I received announcing the death of a loved one. I would not have moved to Tampa Bay, nor would I have taken my current position, which gives me the greatest career fulfillment I have ever known. Had I not been employed with TBN, my now husband but then boyfriend would not have taken a position here. We would not have gotten married, we would not have had children.
In short, my life would be but a shadow of what it is now, and pale apparition of the joy, the contentment and peace I now know.
Holidays are harder now, though. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas — they aren’t what they were before. As my children and husband celebrated with me a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but wish that my mother could have lived long enough to see me become a mom. It’s a lonely place — being a mother without a mom.
But I see my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather in my children every single day. It’s a joyous thing to behold, the grief tinged with hope and pride.
Grief doesn’t go away. It stays with you, it becomes a part of who you are. It follows you, step by step, heartbeat to heartbeat.
I’ll never stop grieving because I will never stop loving who they were and what they mean to me.
That’s all anyone can do, really.
I carry my grief, and it carries me — we are constant companions, each knowing the secrets of one another in ways that no one else could.
I carry my grief, and it carries me.