Spring is showing up in a bold and arrogant way this week, flaunting every inch of her shinny self while she struts across the catwalk right in front of me. Her cloudless skies, skin-burning-sun, singing birds, lovely aroma of blooming flowers, and her warm afternoon wind whispering into my children’s ears to strip off their sweaters and find buckets of water for the sandpit.
The change of season feels like a sexy new woman walking into my house to steal my husband and my kids from me while I lay in my pajamas for the third day in a row, completely unkept. I hate her and her flirtatious ways that invite us to embrace change and celebrate new life. I don’t want a new life! I want my old life when my baby boy was still here.
At the same time, I need this sultry season just as much as my family members. I’ve spent all of autumn and winter lying in the dark, cold, lonely cave of grief. This place of solitude has been holy in its own right. It was a safe space to try and make sense of Basil’s death and tend to my broken heart. It was a sacred space for hot, angry tears to fall while I held tight to my son’s plush lovie, pretending it was him. It was a place that brought me comfort after I would push myself to bring love and joy to my three living daughters. It was the space my husband could enter and show his own heartache.
I loved my dark cave, but the truth is, the dark place was beginning to consume me and suck all the life out of me despite the fake face I put on when I briefly stepped out of the cave. By spending so much time thinking about death and how much it destroyed my entire world, I began to see myself as destroyed and believed my soul was scorched beyond repair. I was making my entire identity all about my son’s death.
I stopped participating in life and had zero remorse about it because I thought the death of my son excused me from it all. I was choosing to focus on death which shut me off from the fountain of love. I refused to accept love and in return I had little love to give, especially to those I didn’t know.
I intentionally avoided the new families at my kids’ small school because I was too distraught to muster up small talk, assuming there could be no foundation for genuine friendship because these new people in my life didn’t know what I had been through. I was skipping Mass because I became a weeping spectacle by the responsorial and it hurt too much to catch all the curious glances that fell on me. I was becoming a new person and not someone I recognized or liked.
Shortly after Spring showed up I sat alone in the still of the night and had the clear thought that for the rest of my life, I was excused from participating because of my son’s death. He would be my excuse to keep shutting out the world. But just as fast as this thought entered my brain, the rest of my entire being was consumed by the deepest feeling of disgust. Never in my life had I been comfortable playing the victim and I wasn’t going to accept that role now.
I thought my cave was sealed tight and impermeable to the light of life but it turns out her brightness was seeping in through the cracks and for the first time I could see my pitiful surroundings. She found me no matter how far I tried to hide. It also turns out, Spring was not a her but Him. The Jesus who walking out of his own tomb, stepped into mine, headed straight toward me, offered me a hand, and helped walk me out of my own tomb and away from the grasps of death. All I had to do was reach for Jesus and rest in God’s embrace.
I will spend the rest of lent meditating on the image of God holding me like an infant, bringing me comfort and calm while I wail and weep. Already I can see the crusted ash of my scorched soul begin to peel back and love begin to pulse through my veins again. I know there will be times that I have to go back into my cave but right now it’s monumental to be able to flash a genuine smile of happiness toward the strangers I pass on the street, the cashier at the grocery store, and especially the new families at my kids’ school.
Opening myself back up to love allows me to live and bloom like the flowers and trees I’m surrounded by, even if I’m missing a limb this year.
Heather is a Colorado girl who is happiest in the mountains. She fell in love with her Midwest-hunk-of-a-husband during her higher ed study of theology; earning an undergraduate degree in theology from The Collage of St Benedict followed by a Masters degree in Systematic Theology from St John’s University. Heather recently went from a decade long career at one of Forbes’ Top 100 Companies to being a stay-at-home mom in Switzerland. Heather is finding a rhythm of loving and caring for her four children, 3 living daughters and her son in Heaven, while also learning how to pay bills, read road signs, and buy groceries in Swiss German. You can follow her family’s adventures and walk through grief on Instagram with the name @travelsandtutus.