… I know you want to be the pillar of strength and positive about everything but my God Naomi you are human!!!”
That’s a text I got last Thursday. It sounds tough, but the friend who sent it is someone dear who I look to, like an older sister. It was most of all comforting to hear from her the day before Adam’s anniversary. And before laying into me 🙃 she let me know she’d been thinking of me every day this month. So her text above was not just quickly defended, but also deliberated the whole darn weekend – in the midst of acknowledgements, tears, outpourings of love, consuming sadness, tons of emoji hearts, even festivities … A complex weekend after a tough week.
The pain surrounding the anniversary this year was real, more than I expected after four years. Being in the midst of launching a hopeful book celebrating gratitude, tolerance, laughter, authenticity, spirituality, kindness, even joy (so much inspiration) seemed to complicate things. Though I was deliberate in writing it to explicitly recognize the pain and grief alongside the hope, and while people have expressed appreciation for my vulnerability in the realness, most acknowledge my strength, resilience, unconquerable faith, etc. …
But on Sunday afternoon, the day after the anniversary, I was just empty. I walked to where his ashes lie, to be near him, looking for his presence and comfort. Instead I became filled with anger, loneliness, sadness … nothing enlightened … And I felt like a fake. How could I ever write a book with that title? … “It’s never going to be effing ok!!”
As I walked home I listened to the end of a Kate Bowler “Everything Happens” podcast. If you don’t know her, she facilitates magnificent conversations with amazing experts, authors, and inspiring figures, unpacking the complexities around grief and life. Check it out for sure. This particular episode with author Jerry Sittser ended with a blessing that resonated for me, and offered a hint of clarity in my conflictedness.
This “Finding Adamsworld” blog is about “connecting to what’s real under the noise,” and Kate’s words in her blessing did that for me. … There is in fact something pretty simple within my contrasts, and under the superhero stuff – a ‘just human’-ness. Behind what many have observed as strength is a simple survival instinct. I was (am) strong, needing to push through for the sake of those around me, and therein lies an explanation for the hope I found and still cling to in order to get through – “water breaks along a marathon route” is the analogy I use in the book. Kate’s blessing provided that lightbulb within my conflicted feelings. So I wrote and asked her for permission to share it. She said yes. Here it is. I think it’s better if you read it out loud:
“Blessed are you who feel the wound of fresh loss or of the loss no matter how fresh that still makes your voice crack all these years later. You who are stuck in the impossibility, frozen in disbelief. How can this be? It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Blessed are you fumbling around for answers or truths to make this go down easier, who demand answers or are dissatisfied with the shallow theology and trite platitudes. Blessed are we who instead demand a blessing because we have wrestled with God and are here. Wounded, broken, changed. Blessed are we who keep parenting, who keep our marriages and friendships and jobs afloat. We stock the pantry because what choice do we have but to move forward with a life we didn’t choose, with a loss we thought we couldn’t live without. One small step, one small act of hope at a time.”
I do want to be positive, even “a pillar of strength,” and there are beautiful reasons for it, my children – even myself. … But, I’m human and it hits hard sometimes. It’s all part of it. Life is contrasts…
Thankfully, so much so, that as I write now a few days later, even the title of my book is beginning to resonate again.