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.

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