I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened. It happened slowly, over days, weeks, and months. It also happened quickly, as though someone flipped a switch and turned on the lights in a dark room I had been sitting in. It happened as though after months of being supported by a ventilator, it was finally removed and I was able to breathe on my own without its assistance.
Deep breaths. Refreshing breaths. Life-giving breaths.
In the past couple weeks–really, since Holy Week and Easter–I have felt a shift. In my stress levels. In my grief. In the emotional rollercoaster I have been riding for months. In my youth ministry. In my relationships. In my presence with myself.
Something has shifted, and as though a heavy weight has lifted off my chest, I find myself able to breathe again.
Take the time to be okay
And laugh a bit along the way
You could take me for a ride
We could just drive all day
And we could breathe again
Step outside our front door
And gaze upon the stars
And know we’re not alone
So run into the fields
Scream louder than you can
It’s good to be alive
And breathing air again
This song has been playing in my head a lot lately. “Take the time to be okay, and laugh a bit along the way.”
I still think about Alexander every day. I still think about what our lives should look like. I still think about how different things should have been. But, I find that I am able to breathe through it. I’m able to think of that sweet boy and how many lives he continues to touch, and while I am so sad that he isn’t here, I am able to find enjoyment in life. I am able to breathe. I am able to laugh. I am able to invest myself in friendships and in youth ministry in ways that I never thought I would again.
This month, as milestones continue to come–10 months and my first Mother’s Day without my boy–and as the one year milestones inch closer and closer, I am reminded that there will still be hard days. In fact, there will still be terrible days. But those days have become fewer and far between. And for today, I am grateful for the ability to just breathe a little more deeply and to embrace this life that I do have a little more fully.
As I told a friend the other night, “It feels strange to experience glimpses of my old self.” I know that I am forever changed by Alexander and by the grief that I will carry for the rest of my life. But it is good to have moments and days of laughter and joy. It is good to have days where youth ministry feels natural again. It is good to have days and weeks that leave my heart feeling as full as it can.
This month, the Grieving Parents Support Network is hosting an online event called May We All Heal, with daily prompts for writing and creative reflection. I’m not going to pressure myself to add another check box to my to do list every day to participate, but I will be following along and participating as I’m able in this global healing event for bereaved parents. Because healing is important. Because my healing is important. Because our healing is important.