You can’t stop time. You can’t capture light. You can only turn your face up and let it rain down. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions after Jimmy died. In the early years, it was hard to think much beyond surviving life in the aftermath. Getting out of bed, putting one foot in front of another, finding laughter and bits of joy where I could, fighting to stay out of the pit.
Now, more than eight years out, I look at the lengthy lists of resolutions people post online and quickly get overwhelmed. Even those that purport to be for grievers are too much for me. There are days when I can barely get myself outside to walk our dog, but I’m supposed to make and keep 64 New Year’s Resolutions for Grievers?
Part of the problem is the enormity of the undertaking, and part of it is that I just can’t be that perfect. I need to eat well, meditate and get lots of sleep. I should stay away from toxic people and journal on a daily basis. I must organize my piles and piles of photos and create a memory book in honor of Jimmy or my parents. It’s all just too much.
What gets lost in all those resolutions is how far I’ve come. How far we’ve all come. To lose one of your essential people (or two or three or four), and keep living is no small thing. To find joy, friendship and love in the aftermath. To keep learning, taking chances, making new friends, supporting others who’ve also lost a beloved. That’s where the beauty lies.
In a New Year’s resolution world, I’d be 15 pounds lighter and training for a half marathon. I’d be cooking 5-6 days a week, keeping a spotless house and writing another book. I’d have a well-organized calendar that was carefully balanced between work commitments and time with friends and family. But the woman who aspired to some or all of that is gone now. I don’t have the energy, desire or brain power to even aspire to that kind of life.
Some days, it’s all I can do to remember to pause and take a deep, cleansing breath.
So instead, I set a few simple goals for myself. What’s the difference between a goal and a resolution? Don’t ask. It might just be semantics but “goal” feel less intimidating.
- Move my body a little every day. The world is much more manageable when I get some exercise.
- Preserve space on my calendar to read, write, create and just be
- Spend time each week with the people I love most
- Hold my sweet boy close. Say his name, share his story and embrace the world the way he did.
The light is coming back, a little more every day. We are still here. Battered and bruised. Hurting and healing. Vulnerable and brave. Still standing and sticking together. Releasing our grip on old grievances. Holding tight to the ones we’ve lost and the ones who enable us to survive. Fighting to stay in the arena. Doing our best.
Wishing you grace, beauty, hope, healing and joy in the new year. Here’s to staying close, holding hands and keeping each other upright as life rains down all around us.
This was beautiful and inspiring. I am finding that one of the challenges of grief is figuring out how to push myself to do the things that I know will be healing (though hard) while recognizing the limitations that loss has created for me. This essay does a nice job of threading that needle.