A friend posted a copy of this picture the other day. It wrapped my heart in a cloak of sadness and sucked the breath right out of my lungs.
I know that grief.
That crushing weight, the one that clouds your mind and squeezes joy out of your heart.
It finds you…when you expect it and when you don’t.
When you’re trying to bury it. When you’re ready to embrace it.
One year ago yesterday morning, I woke for the first time knowing how different my life would be, every day. My stepmom had died, early in the morning of July 17, 2017, but I had awaken that day blissfully unaware of how much my world had changed.
The call from my dad that came while readying my kids for a day-long trip brought me to my knees.
She was gone.
For five years, we knew the cancer that devoured space in her chest and sent sentries elsewhere, threatened. It stood, sometimes directly in our line of sight, sometimes in the periphery of our vision. Never gone. Always a shadow.
It had made it’s move. She fought against it, but her body succumbed.
One year ago, July 18, 2017, I woke from a dream. I was in the bed on the third floor of my parents house, my husband sleeping quietly beside me. The dream was vivid and it’s memory clear, even today.
She climbed the stairs to the third floor where we were sleeping. I woke and rose to sit in the bed. Her long-lost dark hair, nearly black, was again well past her shoulders, with it’s characteristic curls and strands of gray. Her face was full, her body heavier than I could ever recall. “Lush,” was the word my aunt used when I described her appearance.
She reached the landing and crossed to me, arms out. Her face radiated health. She wore a rosy glow and a conflicted smile.
I can still feel the embrace, how she wrapped her arms around me and I knew she was home. Safe.
Gone is her pain. Gone is her nausea. Gone are her physical struggles.
But gone is my person. My rock. My guiding light. The wise woman who helped me see beauty in struggles and learn to hold joy in my heart despite hard times. Who has challenged me to be the person everyone wants to call a friend. To lead with love and become endearing. How to be firm but kind.
May we all have such a beacon of love in our lives. Someone to walk with and guide us here, and from the other side, when they are gone.