When we got home from the hospital on day one, the 8×10 mirror that had been hanging in our family’s living room for 20 years had fallen off the wall and shattered into a million pieces.
Our hearts a reflection of the remnants on the ground.
I remember desperately wishing that day for time to fast forward to a year from now. To have some distance from the trauma of it all. Knowing that we would all be different, but not knowing how.
Time is reliable like that.
365 days later I walked through the same front door. Underneath the fresh coat of paint was the familiar scent of home; coffee grounds mixed with the smell of clean carpet and years of memories. A new mirror hung on the wall.
As my mind quickly scanned the time passed, I remembered the year in its simplest form: impossible (month 1), hopeful (months 2-3), hard and dark (months 4-5), lighter and full of growth (months 6-8), disbelief and sadness (months 9-10), happy and stable (month 11), then anticipatory, sad and surreal (month 12).
We – my sisters, my mom and I – have all changed over the last year, after losing one of the most important people in our lives – Dadio. I don’t know that better is the right word, but I do know that we are all MORE than we have ever been.
Here’s my expansion story in a snapshot.
More connected. There’s a reason they say it takes a village (or is that motherhood?). Friends, our nanny, therapists, strangers, preschool teachers and spiritual guides made up the angel army that helped me navigate grief and lighten the burden of this year.
More fearful. It’s frustrating when parts of you change without your consent. Many things that used to be easy have felt more challenging, like taking trips, making new friends and being alone with my daughters (being alone, period).
More social. I’ve never been a huge extrovert, but I have found that my outlook and attitude are exponentially better when I have connected on a walk with a friend. After spending so much time in my head, it’s refreshing to be in someone else’s.
More creative. Creativity has been my way home; the part of me that comes alive when I’m not sure where my feet are. Drawing in my journal, writing and creating have all been the antidote to grief.
More overwhelmed. There is a delicate balance between being a mother to young kids and a person who is grieving. As I stumble my way through both, I am learning how these roles both battle and strengthen one another.
More healed. While processing my grief, I uncovered many other uprisings in my soul asking to be heard; the pain of past relationships, anxiety, childhood moments, spirituality, insecurities, etc. Grief has a way of revealing all of you.
More natured. The ocean, mountains, trees, sunshine, desert, trails – mother nature has been my greatest source of inspiration and soul fuel.
More spiritual. I have questioned, expanded, resisted and ultimately found the most peace in my relationship with God. It’s a simple formula that takes a lot of work; praying unceasingly and finding the stillness to receive.
More anxious. Anxiety shows up for me as a cover for hard emotions, emotional un-safety, loneliness and fear. I’m learning how to change my relationship with this energy I’ve struggled with in the past, but have really been forced to face this year. Anxiety is my reminder that I need to reconnect with my true self and find my feet in the present moment (some days easier said than done). And I’ve collected a large tool box of actual things I do when anxiety shows up (see previous post).
More spongey. Remembering it’s just as important to release negative feelings and emotions as it is to fill up on joy and the things I love.
More loved. Even though we have all grieved in our own ways, my sisters and my mom (the five tough cookies) have been my ultimate source for comfort, motivation, humor, solidarity and truth. We have all shown up for ourselves and each other in every way.
More, more loved. Ryan, Coura, Maisley and Me – we have loved more, fought more, have grown closer together, then further apart and then back together. They are my “why” and have been there for the big moments and the in-between moments that we won’t remember, but have stamped somewhere on our hearts.
More compassionate. It’s incredible that people all over the world, all the time, grieve the loss of people they can’t live without. I understand grief only in my experience, but I have a new level of compassion for the impossible challenges of this life.
More grateful. Life is for the living. I am so thankful for this day, this breath, these daughters, this husband. Once you’ve experienced that phone call, it’s hard to find peace in the uncertainty of life yet simultaneously easy to find gratitude in normalcy.
More buoyant. There is an innate and undeniable pull inside the human spirit to lift up and to keep treading water.
More brave. It takes a lot of bravery to step into the shoes we are given and face the thoughts and moments head on. Especially on the tougher days, stuck under the grip of sadness that makes it hard to breathe and function. Even though hard days felt like they would never end, there was always at least a moment of grace, a smile from a baby and bare feet on the concrete. It takes just as much bravery sometimes to enjoy the beautiful moments and days we are equally given.
More grace. Somedays, survival was the only threshold – Netflix, easy meals and laying in bed was all she wrote.
Our story, growing and healing doesn’t end here. There is no finish line, no 365-day medal. However, a lot of hard work has brought us to today, and that deserves to be celebrated.
Thank you, Dadio, for the undeniable gift of more.