10 Years and Still the Same

I've started and re-written this post several times now today, and in some ways I feel like it's time for me to move on from posting a memorial every year. It's no surprise to anyone that knows our family that February 15th and 16th were the worst days of our lives. I know we don't have to tell anyone who knew my mom and brother twice about the kind of shock an devastation their deaths had on our lives and the lives of those around them. I know that I don't have to remind anyone who knew them about what the loss of their presence in our lives means on a day to day basis, because the void is deep and cannot be replaced or filled. It has not been replaced or filled... nor will it ever be. Those closest to us realize the monumental impact that suffering in silence means... that no amount of platitudes or verbal comfort will make any difference. That's not to say that we don't and haven't appreciated the support over the years, but what it means is that truly nothing and no one can ever do anything to make it any less difficult. After ten years I've realized that loss will always be loss.

Not having my mom throughout the last ten years of my life has been the most difficult thing I have gone through on a day in, day out basis. I used to think that time healed all wounds. But really, it doesn't. Time doesn't make me think of my mom less. Time doesn't make me miss them less. Time doesn't make the hurt any less or more bearable. I can vividly remember the details of the 24 hours between 5:16pm on February 15th and 2:30pm on February 16th... the moment I found out my mom died, and the moment we had to let Chase go. I remember each thought, emotion, numb feeling, nurse, hallway, ventilator... I remember the doctor pulling me into the room telling me to prepare that my brother likely wouldn't make it through the night. I remember the surreal grace and overwhelming relief seeing Taylor alive when we were told his injuries were life-threatening (a mix-up by a nurse that we are forever grateful for). I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, "Brynn is dead." I remember each scent, feeling, word, emotion so crystal clear-- clearer than any memory I have in this world so far and time has not lessened those memories even close. I'd argue to myself that time has actually magnified them for me. 
But see, the thing that I have learned through all of this is that grief and loss can catapult you in a direction far beyond who you could ever be without it. I wish with every ounce of my being that my mom and Chase were alive right now and that we could go back to being the family we were ten years ago... that my mom would know my husband... would journey alongside us through our adoption... would be around to mentor me as I struggled to find my way through my 20s. But at the same time, I have no question that who I am today is a result of the tragedy and loss that ten years ago today marked. I often think about that... would I be living her legacy if she were still alive? Would I have as willingly surrendered the rest of my life to God if he hadn't first rescued me from my darkest place? I don't know if I will ever know the answer to that and so, here are some of my thoughts. 
1. I made a very conscious choice not to blame anyone or anything for their deaths. That would be the easy road. That would be the path that makes sense and would give me an out to direct all of my anger and pain towards and for the rest of my life I would have something to hate and an element of control over an uncontrollable circumstance. Instead, by the grace of God who rescued me, I was able to surrender that blame to Him because no amount of blame, hatred, bitterness or depression could ever bring them back and change my reality. Instead, I chose freedom.

2. I got out of bed. I got out of bed when I wanted to stay in bed for the rest of my life and I took a shower. I took a shower, put on clean clothes, ate food and stepped back into life because life didn't stop even thought my world did. I laid in bed and realized that me laying in bed wouldn't bring them back. Me begging for them to come back wouldn't bring them back. Me crying out asking, "Why us?!" wouldn't bring them back. So instead, I chose to live.

3. The best way I could think to honor my mom and brother was to live big. I realized very, very quickly that life is short and in that moment I didn't want to live with compromise. I didn't want to settle. I didn't want to take the easy path. I wanted to spend every moment, every hour, every day of my life with purpose and meaning and not slip into the comfortable suburban habit that I had grown accustomed to. For me that meant taking stock in my choices and deciding right then and there: Who do I want to be?

4. I had two choices: Blame God, or trust God. Even thought I grew up as a Christian, I seriously doubted God after I begged for Chase to live. BEGGED. I have never prayed or cried harder for something in my life than for him to survive. And when he didn't, I was so confused. I was SO confused. I thought I did everything right and I didn't understand why God didn't answer my prayers. At that moment I could have made a very specific choice to walk away from God... but by His graciousness again I chose to trust in His purpose. I don't know why all of this had to happen to us, but I had to, have to, believe that God is sovereign. God is good. God does only good, and on this side of eternity I may never be able to understand it... but I have the hope of knowing I will see them again some day. And THAT is an answer to prayer.

5. I had to allow myself to grieve in whatever way came to me. I couldn't live by anyone else's definition of grief, nor could I judge anyone else's way of grieving. Instead, I had to grieve what I lost in whatever way happened. And I have grieved and I continue to grieve. The grief comes in waves that I allow myself to ride through and don't run from anymore.

6. I remember the humanity of my mom and brother. 5 years too late from when I should have gone to counseling, I went to grief counseling. My therapist was so wise as I was sobbing over what I missed and loved about my mom, and she made me stop and tell her the things that used to upset me about my mom and the ways that I didn't want to be like her. I felt like it was blasphemy... but at the same time, it helped my healing heart because it allowed me to take her and Chase off a pedestal and remember that they were human too... the good and the bad. I laughed, remembering how my mom would write me passive-aggressive letters when she was mad at me that I would throw in a drawer or rip up in my teenage angst (now I wish I had them!) and when my brother would purposely annoy us with blowing his recorder in our ear.

I wouldn't wish this kind of loss on my worst enemy... going through something like this has softened my heart and given me a capacity to love that I am not sure I would have ever had before. There can be beauty in suffering if you allow it. Don't ever lose sight of that hope. Grieve in your own way. But don't rob yourself of the life you have by spending the rest of it wishing it were different or blaming someone else because it is.

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