A few nights ago, as we prepared for bed, I asked a question of Jim. In truth, I didn't really anticipate a reponse. Some questions have no answer. Nevertheless, I asked, perhaps only because I needed to voice the thoughts that had been rolling around in my head. "Will I ever feel normal again?"
"Normal" is a relevant term. It's meaning and definition changing and dependent upon many variables. Most likely, at some point, we all have pondered the question, "what is normal?" Normal in one situation is abnormal given another situation. Our household, by average American standards, would probably not be considered normal. Most families do not plan their events around wheelchairs and walkers. Most do not purchase vehicles based on how easily a wheelchair can be lifted in and out. When selecting schools, most parents do not give a passing thought to acoustics in a classroom or bathroom accessibility. Vacation plans to the beach are typically made without consideration to how a 9 year old will get through the sand. Comparatively speaking, our family has not been "normal" for many years. However, we have adjusted and conformed to the individuality of the members of our family. We have so completely adapted to what is abnormal that for us it is normal.
There are some things that, no matter how you adjust or conform, will never be normal. For parent to bury child goes directly against the natural cycle of life. The sudden death of a 2 1/2 year old child is not normal. To find one's baby face down in the brilliant blue of a swimming pool is not normal. For children to embrace the body of their dead little sister is not normal. To hold nothing but memories of a beautiful daughter and precious sister is not normal. There is no way to adapt to something so abnormal. It is not and will not ever be normal.
Much of what I am experiencing physically is a normal part of grief. Exhaustion unlike anything I have ever before experienced, a weariness that seems to seep from my bones, is expected in this process of grief. Also normal, is the ever present nausea brought on by the searing, blinding pain. The physical aching in my arms, which comes from the palpable need to hold her again, is common among grieving mothers. There is an overall feeling of heaviness, a sense that someone has placed to great a load upon my shoulders. Lack of energy, enthusiasm, and desire, while foreign to me, is normal for in the face of great loss. I am able to recognize these physical aspects of grieving as normal. I have hope and confidence that in time, perhaps a long time, these things will lessen and subside.
Loss of such magnitude necessitates change. Normal, as I once knew it, will never be again. The mighty, powerful hand of grief has reached into the depths of my soul and stirred up havoc. It has changed who I am, what I am and who I will become. I have experienced Gods' sovereignty and been forced to release my grip on that which I have no control. I have stared directly into the face of darkness and horror and wrestled mightily against the forces of bitterness. I have experienced emotion that I did not know existed. I have stood at the proverbial edge of sanity. I have known weakness so great that I question where my next breath will come from. I view life and relationships in an entirely different light. I have a new edge of intolerance toward that which is petty and insignificant. My values, those things which are important to me, have undergone dramatic transformation. My faith has been stretched to great limits. I have seen with startling clarity that my God is one who will go to the deepest depths of despair with me. One cannot walk on this path in the hope of ever returning to the place which was once called normal.
I surmsie that the answer to my own question, "Will I ever feel normal again?" lies deep within myself. The answer is dependent on my willingness to accept the grace and mercy extended to me by my Lord. Intuitively, I know that the waves of grief and sadness will never recede completely. Deep sorrow has taken up residence in my soul. The vacancy left by sweet Laynee is a new, abnormal part of me, a cavernous hole that cannot be filled by anything this side of heaven. I must find and master the art of allowing joy and sorrow to coexist within my heart. My ability to be pliable clay in the potter's hand will determine if I can find a new place called "normal" Jeremiah 18:6 As clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.