Woke up this morning feeling a heavy weight sitting on my chest. At times the weight of grief literally has physical weight that feels like it crushes with every breath. Fortunately, I don't have those days every day and when I do, it lifts within a few minutes and God provides peace and comfort in various different ways. This morning the weight was heavy because I woke up with the realization that 15 weeks have gone by.
Just about two hours ago the clock ticked past the exact moment that we pulled out of the driveway to make the fastest trip to TN that we could. As more time passes, I am remembering more and more about those preceding days and the difficult ones that followed. It was about this time right now that I got a text from a friend that just said "are you breathing yet?" After she and another friend has spent the morning helping us pack anything and everything we might need (and cutting hair and stocking the van with enough snacks to last a week!), she stopped to remind me to "BREATHE". Believe it or not, I needed that reminder.
I think I need that reminder more every day. Sometimes it's just the day to day chaos that we find ourselves in and sometimes it's the HEAVY things of life that get in the way. The last several days I have found myself in a very easily agitated mood. Unsettled. Pushing forward at fast speed at times and paralyzed and not able to move at others. For someone that thrives on "peace", I'm finding it harder and harder to keep from derailing. It hit me this morning that I'm forgetting to breathe.
Just like that morning, the task at hand was overwhelming so dramatically that I don't remember much. I just had to do what had to be done and I couldn't slow down and think about it. How many times do we find ourselves in that same type of moment? Granted, that morning was traumatic and not an every day situation but it has the same parallels. Are we running through life so fast trying to accomplish so much that we aren't breathing. Guilty. I'm running towards GREAT things, but yet I'm still running. Even though many things I'm caught up in doing right now are things that will simplify life in the long-run and make our lives better, I'm still running. I'm not breathing. I'm not stopping to soak in THIS moment.
This isn't about resting or taking time for myself. I've learned to do both of those things better than I ever have. It's about breathing. It's about focusing on one thing. It's about just stopping and soaking in the moment and NOT worrying about a thousand other things at the same time. There are many things that are on my mind and situations to deal with that are stressing me out beyond what is healthy. I'm on emotional overload at the moment. However, "that" text came back to mind today at just the right time. BREATHE. When we stop and TRULY breathe our focus becomes that ONE thing. Just like when you are angry and about to blow your top, you're told to count to 10. During labor or in painful situations, controlling your breathing becomes a way to make the pain somewhat tolerable. It serves as a reminder to me today that I need to just focus on one thing. As much as it seems impossible and doesn't even make sense and I don't have a CLUE how to do it...just ONE thing. Maybe that one thing just needs to be focusing on doing NOTHING about any of it and letting God do it instead. Hmm....what a novel idea!!!
It seems like on this road of grief, I'm just beginning to feel some of it. Having to focus so much on keeping everything together and everyone on track, DID numb some of the feelings at times. Don't get me wrong, I've felt plenty each and every day. It's just that as time goes along and other's emotions aren't running as freely on their sleeves, I'm being allowed to feel my own at it's fullest strength. Some days I'm feeling stronger and more stable and other days I'm so emotionally overwhelmed that I don't know how I function and keep our lives on track. Some days I'm just so incredibly stunned. As much as I know he is gone, I still can't believe it and every reminder still stings. I had fully accepted the outcome from the very first second I was told what was going on. I knew it was grim. I just wasn't expecting the battle to be so intense so quickly and end so abruptly. That is the part that just doesn't sit well in my brain. In my heart, I have ZERO doubt it was for the best, but my brain has yet to wrap around the timing.
Little things rip me apart and are usually the things that leave the crushing weight. Just like a recent day that my son handed me a red jello to open for him. It would have meant nothing to most people and I normally would have done so without a second thought. However, that brings back a moment in my memory that literally nearly brought me to my knees. Sunday morning before our mad dash on Wednesday and his death on Thursday, Dad showed his first signs of possible improvement from the devastating effects that the previous week's chemo had ravaged. He ASKED for Cherry jell-o and Welch's grape juice. He asked! We knew that even if he couldn't get it down (his throat was RAW from the chemo and the cancer had already made swallowing extremely difficult), it was a HUGE victory that he had thought of something he wanted. Kevin and I laughed as we drove the 15 minutes to town to the little tiny grocery store. We both had such hope in us that morning because it was a morning of victory. I knew that the battle was FAR from over and I knew that the end result was going to be the same, but it was the first moment we felt victorious from Round ONE. As we pulled up to the only stoplight in town (told you it was a small town....we had a town celebration when it was installed!), we pulled up beside my Aunt and Uncle on their way to church. I had just enough time to yell out the window what we were doing and EVERYONE was smiles and shared a round of thumbs up (which Dad had always been notorious for doing but it became his top way of communicating when talking became difficult). We delivered Dad's request and left to come back to Illinois with a small taste of victory in our hearts. It was hope. Hope that he would improve greatly over those next few days and that he would be given a chance to enjoy himself and the things he loved once more before Round TWO would start. He never got that chance. So now, just the sight or reminder of jello or grape juice seem to suck my breath right out. It's amazing what little memories can do to a person!
As much as that memory stings, I find great peace and joy in the others that are sneaking back in. Just last night, I had an overwhelming craving for a peach nehi! I don't even know if they sell them around here and I've not had one in many years! I do believe I will have to find out! When I was still in elementary school, we would get so excited on the Sunday afternoons in the summer that Dad would agree to take us to the swimming hole at the creek. It didn't happen often as we liked, so when he agreed to go it THRILLED us! We also knew that most likely on the way home he would stop at the gas station and allow us to pick out a "coke" or a popsicle. In those days, my choice was always either an orange push-up popsicle or a Peach Nehi. We very seldom got those treats other times, so riding back home on the back of the pick-up with one of those in my hand reminded me that everything was just PERFECT in my world! I crave the simplicity of those days. Perhaps, I do need to go find me a bottle of peach nehi and just soak in the simplicity once more! Oh, how my heart longs for peach nehi days and grateful for such a beautiful memory of a time when life was simple. The days when catching lightning bugs or watching church league softball were the highlight of the week!!!!! Or the days when the flutter of excitement was too much to contain when the phone would ring on Friday afternoons and we would hope and pray that it was Dad telling Teresa to call in an order at Rebel Rouser that he would pick up when he got off the interstate on his way home from work. What days! With great longing....