“And I know I needed changes; But not this, This is not painless”
September 30, 2010 § 5 Comments
“Pain, you just have to ride it out, hope it goes away on its own, hope the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions, no easy answers, you just breath deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain can be managed but sometimes the pain gets you where you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain, you just have to fight through, because the truth is you can’t outrun it and life always makes more.” -Meredith Grey
One day this summer, I was home, sitting on the couch and just watching tv. A white truck drove by. For less time than it took me to complete the thought, I thought it was Cody. I didn’t get excessively excited or try to rush out the door to meet him. Rather, my heart, for that moment, felt what used to be normal. It was like putting a magnifying glass up to the pain, then leaving it there in the sunlight, letting it burn. Somehow, realizing how immune I’d become to the empty feeling and the pain made the pain worse for awhile. I miss simplicity of knowing that Cody was coming back, that I was loved and that no matter what happened, I had a partner to encourage me, challenge me, and keep me in line.
It has been a few months since that experience. I’m sure I’ve become even more used to the pain. But, dealing that has made me somewhat fearless. The worst thing I could imagine has already happened. I’m sure I might feel differently about that one day when I have kids. But somehow, going from the most excited, forward-looking, planning-intensive time of your life to the lowest low you can imagine is like getting the rug pulled out from under you while standing on the ledge of the Empire State Building. The initial fall is a shock, but then you just keep going down as though there might never be a bottom.
I have changed. I approach life fearlessly, or at least try. I don’t complain often (that one is an ever growing outlook, that I’m still working on). I find joy. Looking back on the past year, I feel like Cody would be shocked. I know he’d still love me, but he’d be surprised at me. And that’s ok. I made the decision very early on that Cody would continue to be in my life, but I was allowed to grow and change as necessary. That means I don’t analyze every decision I make based on whether or not Cody would be proud. To be honest, I didn’t do that when he was alive, so it’d just be silly for me to do that after he died; I think its one of the things he loved about me anyway. Nonetheless, I think he’d laugh. I’m sure I’ve provided him plenty of entertainment as I learned to walk in this world again, stumbling around like a new-born fawn; legs far too big for my body, falling and rising to try again.
In the past year, I took my first plane ride to a foreign country alone, met a guy there who I really didn’t know that well, shot my first deer, got a tattoo (newsflash if you didn’t know that already!), roadtripped to Yellowstone with one of my best friends, whitewater rafted again, rode a mechanical bull, started writing again, learned to surf, ran a horse down a Costa Rican beach, rockclimbed, rode a motorcycle, made law review, took a couple more plane rides to foreign countries by myself, took some guitar lessons, signed up for my first half marathon, went ziplining with a bunch of people I had just met, learned to salsa, marched in the National Pro-life march with two of my best friends, and really, the list just goes on and on. I even opened my heart to love again, tried to date, and even got hurt. All while learning how to grieve; a process that I think no one ever masters or wants to master, just eventually decides to tread the delicate line of letting go and holding on, moving forward and taking your past with you.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned, one that I am still learning, is contentment. To be stated more realistically, hopeful, ambitious contentment. I know, it is an oxymoron to be ambitious and hopeful, attitudes which are forward thinking, while searching for contentment, which focuses on the present. Oddly, I think it is the only way to be; living in the moment with a realistic eye one the future. But, contentment means that we are happy with the moment we’ve been given. It means that while I’m alone,I’m content, and therefore, not lonely. Accepting the things I cannot change. I can’t change things, but I can change my outlook. I can’t fill the void Cody left, but I can let someone in to serve their unique part in my life. I can’t rely on anyone else for my ultimate happiness; that is an attitude carefully nurtured by God and me.
One year later. So much has changed. I have changed.
As I tackle this day and the year that lies ahead, I know I need to continue to live in the moment, be content with my life. Continue to open my heart. I need to be kind, and show love to everyone.
Amazingly, I’ve learned that I can bring Cody with me, talk to him whenever I want, let him be a part of my life and still have room in my life for new love, new friends, new experiences, new points of view. This weekend marks the end of big days; my last first. In that sense, I’m looking forward to it. I don’t like grieving because some particular day tells me I should and sometimes I feel like anniversaries, birthdays and the like are days I’m “expected” to be upset. Somehow, that makes the days leading up to the big day more upsetting; on the “big day,” I’ve prepared myself for it, I expect it, and goodness knows I hate to cry while anyone can see me. Its not a strength thing, a pride thing, or anything really. It’s just a choice, a feeling, a comfort I choose. So, in so many ways, I’m ready for this last first to be done. Not so I can forget him, but just so these days can stop hanging over me like those sole storm clouds on an otherwise decent day. Its like I look out in the future, and I can see the “big day” coming and I hate it. I’d rather those bad moments just catch me off guard, when I miss something particular about Cody at a particular time. I appreciate those genuine moments of missing him more than the days I’m supposed to be upset; somehow they let me remember him in deeper way. Yes, clearly, there is a knot in my stomach approaching this weekend. But, that knot is more like a warning to prepare myself for the hurt that is to come, drawing my attention to that sole storm cloud. So, I appreciate that knot. It helps me handle the day, prepare myself for it, and approach the day with the joy of knowing that while we miss Cody, he’s all fine and dandy celebrating a year of eternity. And, knowing Cody, laughing at us for being upset and wasting our tears.
This weekend, I choose joy! I choose to celebrate a great love. I choose to pray. I choose to remember Cody’s laugh and spirit of love and embrace that. I choose to celebrate his life for what it was; while short, it was beautiful, and great, and full of love. I choose to share that love with as many people as I can. If this attitude of love and joy was the change I needed or was supposed to get, then I’m thankful for the pain.