February Love, February Grief

heart-in-my-hands-1183745

February is one of my favorite months out of the year. At the beginning of the month we celebrate my son’s birth, at the end of the month we celebrate my daughters’, mid-month we celebrate my favorite made up holiday, which justifies eating lots of dark chocolate and heart-shaped cookies.

But in the midst of all the birthday cakes, party decor and Valentine’s cards my heart stings with pain. I wake up with a heaviness, a burden I can’t seem to make lighter. My body aches and I feel a deep sorrow that words cannot describe.

I’m somewhat used to this pain, the feel it every summer at the beginning of July, before I even realize the date my body remembers… the day my Dad and Brother died. The tragedy.

I can be a million miles away, enjoying a vacation, planning a wedding, celebrating one of my many family member’s July birthdays, and yet in the middle of my happy, summer-fun-loving-beach-going my heart hurts.

It happened very fast, from diagnosis to date of passing. October to February, and then he was gone.

My uncle—this man who had taught me to use chopsticks, drive a car, surf choppy waves—he was suddenly gone. Skin cancer ravaged him from my handsome blue-eyed Paul Newman-esque friend, to someone almost unrecognizable.

Those last days, my sister, Aunt and I took shifts, trying to keep him comfortable, reading to him, praying over him, playing his favorite Jack Johnson songs on loop.

My body remembers. The sleeplessness. The worry. The heartache. The weight of it all.

On the counter valentine’s cards and birthday gifts wait to be opened. We choose joy. When the tears come, and I know their source, I choose grace. For joy and grief can be so entangled.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Good

write-a-note-1239503Just Good Enough.

I’ve held back. Day after day, week after week, month after month. Seven years later, I’ve still held back.

We were walking a river trail in our new town, our 6th “New Town” in seven years of marriage. The homes, jobs, and cities have all changed, and yet these walks have remained the same.

They are our time to pour out, to process.

We discussed what’s next. Our lives, have taken us over mountains, through valleys, peaks and depths and now here we are walking this flat trail, cutting and winding through the Salt Lake Valley. Our new adventure.

He asked me. “What do you want to be doing?”

I thought about my first love. Pen to paper, words strung together.

“What’s stopping you?”

Hush.

Fear. At the root of it all. There it was, laid out on the trail. Fear.

He knows my type-A, perfectionist personality too well. So there, on the trail, putting it to rest, he says, “You know, it doesn’t even have to be good. Just start there.”

And so here we are.