The sounds of life

July 23, 2020

It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward ~Patti Davis

The sounds of life

A crash of disbelief still bubbles up when I think of the loss of my mother. The reminder of her death comes in waves as the lessons of grief return. Joyful memories of the past become the guidepost of my life, a balm to my grief. They provide the opportunity to look back and witness the growth and transformation that occurs during these difficult seasons. 

It is in this space thick with emotion, where I volley between sadness and joy, as I squirrel away sweet memories for safe keeping.  Moments that trickle in with a song or a scent, interrupt my thoughts as I twist back to the past of what was and what ifs.  

When it all comes tumbling in, this avalanche of loss through the years; my son, brother, father and now my mother, I crumble with the anguish. A scream of rage pushes from somewhere so deep I no longer recognize myself. Painful memories, elbow in, teasing with regret. 

The heartbreak heaves in just before sleep, a flood of images, always more vivid in the night. As splintered tales of dementia, heart disease and the shock of sudden loss spin their web of dissent. 

Amidst the early stages of grief, it all felt so useless. This pit I would barely climb out from, to be dragged back down again.  There had to be a way out. A rabbit hole to scurry down, a habit to escape to. And there it was; my slow diversion from grief, a glass (or two or more) of wine. This clever distraction actually felt normal, for who could bat an eye after all I’d been through.

And for a while, here is where I discovered a new normal; chasing comfort with a band aid instead of climbing out from the emptiness. Pain is always trying to teach us something, but are we really listening?

Each day, as I sank deeper, I ignored my own cries for help. The ache of despondency that began my day felt unending.  Each morning the same cycle repeated without relief in sight. 

Slowly I started scribbling the hurt into tear stained journals. Rocking slowly on the front porch while the rains kept flooding the yard. The thunder; a comfort, shared in my fury to the world with its violent bursts. 

And then one day there was a pause in my writing. I flipped back to the earlier pages and noticed how the grief had softened its grip. Minutes, went to hours, to eventually days where the tears did not consume me. I could smile again, just briefly, but there came a smile.

Like the sun shining again, each baby step led me towards a new path of recovery, giving me reason to push for one more day. And over time I recognized the power of these small changes.

Just a walk, I teased, though knowing it would be so much more. That small voice in my head kept reminding me that it could make a difference, and it did. The sounds of life ebbed slowly towards me, and for the first time I let them in. A temporary reprieve from grief and an invitation towards gratitude.

My simple steps forward must begin with my breathe, breathing in to focus on the concrete moments of knowing. Gradually learning to center my thoughts in a positive light, while scribbling the details in journals. These small practices provided momentum to my journey. Showing up stronger with each new day.  Stepping outdoors for a walk, where the suns warmth and the bird song is enough to change my reverie. Still knowing there would be difficult days ahead.

Grief never goes away, instead we learn to accept it, recognizing that death and new beginnings are a part of life. It was there on the softer side of grief, where I found gratitude. Sitting with the memories, I appreciate them all in a new light. And when I am ready for the next step, time and patience will show me the way.

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  • July 23, 2020 @ 11:57 AM EDT
    By Rhea Tantlinger
    Tina your words are PRECIOUS...as are you
    Hugs
  • July 23, 2020 @ 7:55 AM EDT
    By Pat MacKenney
    Your writings are beautiful, I am sure your mom is reading every word from above and feels very proud of the daughter she brought into this world.

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