January is always the same for me.
It’s a slow wind-up the last week of December. A cold feeling creeps in, then the dreams start. Slow-motion dreams of ambulances and sirens and silent screaming and the sight of my mom’s face smiling. Always smiling… her thin, blonde (greying) curls bouncing above her like a halo. I startle awake often. I check to make sure Len is breathing almost nightly. I lurch at the sound of sirens, and the phone ringing is jarring and unsettling.
It is difficult to distinguish between trauma and grief in January. Do I simply miss her? Has my heart not managed to process the shock and horror of finding her on the couch, a 90s Philadelphia cream cheese commercial blaring in the background? Am I still not ‘over’ that? Not even 21 years later?
I wonder about these things. I long for it to be different. There is confusion, I think, for some who think I continue to mourn without comfort… that my grief remains unresolved. It isn’t that. I know my mom is safely held in heaven’s halls. I know I will see her again. Both of them. I will see both of them again. I am deeply confident of this.
And yet, January remains a bear… snarling and vicious and I want to play dead. I want to slip under the covers and hide until February.
It’s more of a mess this year. I miss Mom (Sandy). I barely dare to say I miss her more than I miss Mom (Boukje). But there it is. I miss my second mom these days more than I miss my first mom. And what’s ridiculous is that I was blessed enough to have two amazing mothers who I miss with a physical ache that it is overwhelming. I’m not blind to that blessing, and yet the hurt is real and deep and a little raw today.
The Len reminds me that Mom (Sandy) was formative in my adult years. That she was the one I talked to about the things girls needs to talk to their mama about. He reminds me that it doesn’t mean I don’t still love Mom (Boukje) or miss her less. He is correct. It is a logical, rational summation. It makes sense. I should be able to say, ‘Yes’ and move on.
If grief wasn’t a sodden, mucky thing I’d be able to do that. But it is. And I can’t. So instead of trying to make sense of it, I’m just going to cry some today, and let it be. Just let it all be what it is and stop trying to understand or rationalize or feel otherwise.
And I will rest in the arms of the God who anoints the grieving with oil and binds up the wounds of the broken-hearted. I will rest in the only place that makes any sense these days… in the arms of eternal love. After all, my moms are there too.
When this twenty-one year anniversary ticks over to a new day and becomes part of the past, I will still be there… quieted by the love of my Saviour. Because he knows grief is messy. And he knows what it is to weep for loved ones. And because I am His and He is mine.
Even in January, that is solace aplenty.