photograph of a wave breaking with a backdrop of sunset

This wave of grief hit me hard.

It was expectedly unexpected or unexpectedly expected because grief and I are old acquaintances.

November is never easy.

November is the month of my mother’s birthday and my oldest daughters’ birthdays. It is a month focused often on gratitude, and rarely on grief, loss and complicated family dynamics that mean that sometimes, despite the deepest love in the world, relationships can change suddenly and irreparably through death, estrangement, and loss of self.

On Monday, which was also the 32nd birthday(s) of my twin daughters, I found out that a former middle school student was killed tragically in a car accident. He is the second student I’ve lost in the last 6 months, the second young man of color, the second beautiful human being whose family I remember fondly, whom I loved deeply.

Things happen so quickly, in the blink of an eye.

I could see the tidal wave of grief approaching. At first, I swam away from it as quickly as I could, opting to bury myself in the many things I do to distract myself from grief’s undertow, but I knew the wave would catch up to me, that it would take me under and that all there would be to do is to make space for it, to relax into it, and to hope for it to pass, leaving me with some breath to continue this life I’m living on land.

Today all day, I still felt caught in the undertow. At moments it was hard to breathe. I found myself tearing up at random and not so random times. I felt broken and like I would never come up for air. I felt all the grief at once and then some of the grief, and now less of the grief.

I know grief. It comes in waves. This was a big wave.

I am back on shore at the moment. As always, my community reaches out with love to pull me back to shore. They don’t worry about being sucked into the undertow with me. Some of them are already there. But there are enough of those who love me that are firmly rooted and holding out lifelines, holding space, reminding me that there will be a moment where I can wade in the water again, reminding me that I have gone on before and I can go on again, but also reminding me to take my time back to shore.

They will be waiting.

Faith, Hope & Love

two clasped hands in front of a tree

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

In the past few months, I have been opening myself up to love more wholeheartedly.

For people in my life, this may be surprising because I have always lived a life full of love. I love easily, openly and abundantly.

But my love has never quite been a full expression of its truth. It has been a love that holds back, even if ever so slightly. It has been a love that guards my heart, that guards my full self, and that dwells alongside unworthiness.

It is a love that has believed that if people saw the real me, all of me, that they would not love me anymore.

It is a love that has lived in fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” I John 4:18

In the past month, I have been confronting the ways in which I have been living a life of fear. I understand this fear, rooted in abandonment, coming from the early losses of people I loved so deeply and wholeheartedly before I knew the pain of loss.

Fear is a liar.

Fear has held me back from pursuing what my heart most desires.

Fear has told me that my love is not enough, that I am not enough, and that it/I will never be enough.

Fear has driven me to feeling like I have to prove my worth, through always doing more.

Fear has caused me to run away from the possibility of deep and true love, and hide behind work and obligation.

Fear has caused me to abandon my responsibility to myself, and center my responsibilities to others.

Fear has told me that if it is not now, it will not be ever.

But sometimes, in life, we are given (second) chances that we didn’t know we needed.

Chances at redemption.

Chances that restore our faith.

Chances that open up our world and open up new worlds of possibilities.

Chances that cause us to abandon our fears and embrace what we’ve always wanted, wholeheartedly and without reservation.

I have been given some of these chances this year, in incredibly unexpected ways.

They have been gifts.

But some of them are not gifts for now.

They are gifts that call me to restore my faith and hope in love. They are gifts that are meant to teach me to trust myself, trust my heart, and trust my love.

And I am so afraid.

In so many of these situations, I don’t have control of the outcome, and it terrifies me.

Because it has taken so much to open up to chances beyond who I’ve known myself to be. It has taken so much to begin to believe in myself and in those I love most. It has taken so much to trust. It has taken so much to be honest and strive towards living more authentically.

When things are not for now, every fiber of my being wants to run away and hide, to go back to a life of silence and self-denial, hiding and perfectionism, to see this “not now” as a sign of “not ever,” because I am terrified to lose that which I have just begun to find. I am terrified that I am not enough, that I can’t do enough, be enough, love enough. I am terrified of being a failure.

Yesterday was a really hard day where all of this fear spoke loudly into my heart.

But today is a new day.

It is a day that has lessons to teach me, if I am willing to listen, if I am willing to trust, and if I can believe in the love that I know is true.

I am deeply loved, treasured, and precious.

My community will hold me in my deepest fears and when I am drowning in pain.

I can trust my heart, even when things aren’t the way I so desperately want them to be.

Tears can be cleansing. They can be restorative.

My truth has never, in fact, been dependent on the outcome. It is what is, even when I refuse to acknowledge it. It hasn’t changed. It has only grown deeper. It can only be what it is, whether I run from it or run towards it, or whether I just stay still and take it moment by moment.

So that is what I have to do: take it moment by moment, learning to trust that which I can’t always see, can’t always know, can’t always touch; free myself from the need of constant external validation; and trust in what I know deep in my heart.

I’m scared, Friends, but I am trying.