The sounds of life return

November 1, 2020

The sounds of life

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

The residue of disbelief still bubbles up when I drift to the last moments shared with my mother. Her death, another reminder of life’s brevity, provokes the lessons of grief. Memories become the guidepost of my life, and a balm to my sorrow. Creating space for contemplation during these difficult seasons. 

The early stages of grief felt so useless, a relentless wash of pain and anger, with no space to breathe. Each time I stumble through this doorway of loss, a chasm reveals the jagged edges of this discomfort. Dredging stories from the past that reveal another layer in the breaking. 

Slivers of happiness trickle in with a song or a scent, interrupting my thoughts as I twist back to what ifs and what was. It is in this place thick with emotion, where I volley between grief and joy while squirreling away sweet moments for safe keeping. 

Across the year’s grief remains a never-ending obstacle that changes into a quest for meaning. Tears tease with regret, as I examine the consequences of loss, and the life that I am given. Death will move us in powerful ways, prying into the pain to reveal its importance, often taking years to unravel. With my son, father, and brother all passing in a flicker of time, obligation takes root as I examine the depths of my own regret and begin again grieving the loss of my mother.

Her passing still carries a mix of sorrow and remorse. Dementia’s destruction brought with it a frustration I could never quite wrangle as she evolved into a person I no longer knew. This, along with her unexpected death ignites my flaws, leaving scars only the passage of time could mend. 

With so many options to escape from this pain, I often fell into the hands of surrender. A quiet distraction from the heaviness of grief appeared so slowly I considered it normal. A single cocktail to soften the edges showing up with a false belief that I had found my way. This clever diversion to feel ordinary again. 

And so, for a while I chased comfort with a band aid, a journey that promoted an easier path than the reality of my world. A simple diversion to end a day, an inebriated slumber. This ache of despondency pushed me to places I never imagined, as I sank deeper in the comfort brought on by each tonic. Dismissing my calls for help. 

As the grim ache revisited each morning with its complement to the heartbreak, I realized I had not escaped. Grief is never easy, and pain will always work to get our attention. It was time to acknowledge the story my broken heart needed to tell.

The cadence of my words brought solace. Scribbling my sorrow allowed the stories of my soul to tumble onto the page, filling my tear stained journals. Eventually spring spills into summer and I pause my writing to notice the quiet. Exploring the pages of my journal, I am a witness to the shift in my words. Minutes grow to hours, and days flow into months and I recognize my grief has softened.  I am no longer consumed by tears. 

Memories tumble in through the tiniest gaps, triggering moments of what was, as I daydream what could have been. Sentimental anecdotes tug into a smile as the reminders of today return me to the moments of yesterday. Learning to notice the details, I view time in new ways. A clock reading 12:07 is a nudge from my son Ryan, as it represents his birthday. Softly I speak his name reminiscing the light he brought to our lives, a small comfort that lifts me with the inspiration to keep going.

For so long I felt overwhelmed by sorrow. Wishing away my grief, as I searched for a behavior to make it disappear. Like the sun appearing from beneath the clouds, each word penned in my journals, coaxed me in a new direction. Each act of kindness unlocked the door to hope. And slowly with time I began shifting to the other side of pain. 

Eventually, I recognized my surrender as the echoes of my earlier life returned. Uncovering new meaning in the scars, I know grief will always be a part of me. But if we take the steps toward healing, we can reveal new traditions to celebrate the lives we have lost. 

Today I show up sturdier, somewhere on the quieter side of grief, where I look back at memories with a new appreciation. And ready for the next step in my journey, knowing time and patience will show me the way.


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  • November 12, 2020 @ 3:53 PM EST
    By Kathee Clark
    This is so beautifully written. I have reread it several times and each time your words bring me peace and understanding about the complexity of grief. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

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