Today is my niece Allison's 12th Birthday. When I think of a twelve year old, I picture a child standing on the edge of childhood- not quite a teenager, not quite a child. There are so many possibilities, so much excitement. This will be how I picture Allison- her life paused.
The last few months have been hard. They have been a time of mourning. I have felt sadness and a little shock at the way time marches on. Clothes get dirty, dinner needs to be cooked, children go to bed and suddenly it has been nearly three months since the sad night in October when we lost Allison.
Recently my sister Amy sent an email where she shared some thoughts on grief. Her description really struck home to me and I would like to share a few portions of her letter (with her permission):
It darkens. I have lost the ford.
There is a change on all things made.
The rocks have evil faces, Lord,
And I am [sore] afraid.
(Hilaire Belloc, with alteration by Elder Holland)
So on this day, that should be a day of celebration, I would like to send my love and support to my sister and her family. Even though we are not in as deep, we mourn with you.
"Grief is a huge thing, it isn’t something we can fix by talking at it. It isn’t a pothole that we can repave with a sixty-pound sack of asphalt, although people sure like to try. To carry the image in the Belloc poem forward, I think that grief is instead like walking across a river at a ford, and all of a sudden the bottom drops out and you go under and you find yourself swimming, struggling through deep and turbulent water, trying to keep from drowning. There is barely any energy for anything but trying to keep your head above the water. You know that you are wearing a life jacket, but even with a life jacket, the dark, rushing river takes every bit of effort you have. After awhile, maybe months, maybe years, you start to notice that there are rocky footholds every now and then and eventually you find your footing again, but you find that you are crossing the river at a different ford, one that is much deeper than the one you were used to. The whole landscape is different.
I’m sure I could develop the image further, but I will end my comments on that subject here except to note that the one part I didn’t mention are the people who are wading on the edge of the river, who are also struggling with the current, but who aren’t in as deep, who are calling out words of encouragement and can sometimes point out a foothold."
Happy Birthday, sweet niece, until we meet again.