Friday, May 20, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Bathroom: Floating in the Eye of the Storm

I consider it a sign of true healing that I can finally look back and think about those first months after Brittney's death without a surge of raw emotion. As the memories come into focus, I am noticing some interesting things. I lived those many months as if in a movie where the audio was running a second behind the video feed. Nothing was really in sync, and I always had a strange feeling that my mind was no longer fully connected to my body. At the time, I would have described it as "being numb" or "in a fog". Now, as I look at it with a more objective clarity, I am astounded at the beauty of that transitional period in my life.

The "bad" in the aftermath of Brittney's death needs little explanation. My whole world exploded into a million pieces in the space of three hours. My life would never be the same again; and at the time, it seemed like it had ended just as if it had been me in the accident that night. The "bathroom incident," which I just remembered for the first time resently, is a true reflection of how lost I felt during this period of my life.

By January following that ill-fated November night, my husband and I had come to a point where we moved through our daily lives in a muted existance...both clearly wrapped up in the kind of grief that leaves no room for words. On the way home from a job interview, we had stopped at a McDonald's to use the restroom, and I followed him silently into the building, so lost in my thoughts that I was barely aware of where I was going. It wasn't until I was behind Ryan at the stall door that I realized I had followed him right into the men's restroom. I was mortified, and turned immediately to make a quick exit. Unfortunately, I had to exit past the urinals where a man was frozen with the same morified look that must have been on my face. It was a sign to me about how truly disconnected I was. The beauty in this period of my life is just now revealing itself...not in the embarrassing, disconnected, numb experiences that overwhelmed me at that time, but instead from the protective light that I can see now as I look back to those trying months of my life.

I lived all of those moments in what can only be described as "the eye of the storm." At no other time in my life have I moved so perfectly forward, and at no other time in my life would that have seemed so impossible. It is beyond comprehension that in the middle of such an incredible storm, something peaceful, reassuring, glorious and graceful could have been taking place all around me. But as I look back now, it is crystal clear. God is, was, and forever will be my "eye of the storm". I will spend that rest of my life in awe of this miracle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

One Incredible Mother's Day

This is my second Mother's Day without Brittney. Last year at this time, I was still in a daze over her sudden departure from my life. I also struggled with the feeling that, since she was my only child, I may not even qualify any more as a true mother. I have realized over the course of the last year that the experience of motherhood can never be taken away.

This morning, I woke up to the familiar sound of an incoming text message....followed by another...and another...and another! This pattern went on for a good part of the day. These happy Mother's Day messages came from family, friends, past students and MANY of Brittney's close friends. They were filled with funny memories, assurances that Britt would be hovering over me all day today, and reminders of the wonderful relationship Brittney and I had. I briefly wondered if they had all gotten together and planned this bombardment of well wishes, but then I remembered that they were from a number of unrelated social groups in different locations. Regardless of how it happened, I consider it a Mother's Day miracle. None of those people can truly know how beautifully they have honored the memory of Brittney and helped me once again to feel the specialness of this day.*