2.28.2020

Frozen Raspberries and Freezer Burnt Ice Cream.

Goals according to the world more often than not do not match up with Grief and it's journey.

It's a funny thing when you write a blog and label yourself as an open book, there are still things that you think are off limits, but the wind of time often turns pages without our realizing.  These words are by far the most vulnerable I have shared on this blog, insight into the deepest part of my heart that has always felt completely crazy and even with years of counseling, yet unresolved.



It's the story of the remnants of an ice cream pie.  It's lived in 6 freezers, one belonging to my best friend who faithfully housed it for two years without hesitation, for that I will be forever grateful.  It's 19yrs old this month.  It was made by my mom.  Lovingly she made it for me the day before she died, she fucking died the day after she made it.  It was to celebrate my 22nd birthday.  Her hands actually touched it.  Her DNA is on it.  This is the dark part of my grief, making me cringe at the thought, and if paused upon too long, ugly sob.  I can't.  I can't let go.  I have a soft goal of someday finding reconciliation in releasing it - but to be totally honest what does that look like?  A blob melting away.  There is nothing beautiful in that.  It's not a bird being set free, or spreading ashes letting them lightly fall where their owner's soul was most content.  It's a runny, sticky mess.  And heart-wrenching.  The shit of a fatal accident, sudden death.  There's no beloved quilt, or video - oh what I would give to hear her voice again.  Just a symbol of her every day devotion to silly old college student me who mostly took that for granted.  I didn't know it would be her last act of love.  In that freezer burned mass is her light and her love, I can't let it go.



So WHY am I sharing this?  Good gosh that is a good frickin question.  I've managed to keep this quiet for 19yrs.  It came in my heart a bit ago.  And my response in my best sassy 5th grader tone was "I'm Good."  But it came again.  And cue the 5th grade sass once again "seriously?!"  all too well knowing it wasn't going to be ignored, and knowing it was time.  

Taking a deep breathe I reminded myself that ignoring Grief does not make it go away, it will not, and will only consume until it's acknowledged.  While honoring grief, giving it space to unfold and be felt and move through me, takes away it's enormity in that moment, and brings life to what was otherwise lifeless.  I have come to trust this process, it doesn't make the pain and longing less, but it does make it easier to step in knowing I will not be overcome by the waves and will most certainly emerge with a deeper sense of myself and my mom.  So begrudgingly I lobbed some prayers up... "I am surely NOT strong enough to expose this to myself or to the world, but God, YOU ARE.  and for the recored I'm not at all on board with this, but I trust you."

As I hesitantly began to pray and meditate on the remnants of my birthday cake, something I never thought possible began to happen, cracks of light broke through into my dark lifeless time capsule. 


I realized that my ice cream pie is also in the heart of our home, the kitchen.  The place I feel most connected to my mom.  Instead of feeling burdened and crazy when my freezer is over-filled and not shutting, I bitch at her and smile to myself as this is the closest I will get to a mother-daughter relationship.  It's cruel humor and sweet reconciliation simultaneously.  


And then in a moment, the significance of frozen raspberries in my freezer unfolded.  They had been on sample at my local grocer and tasted so incredibly nostalgic of the summer spent getting up at the crack of dawn to pick berries with my mom, my first job when we moved to WA, I bought them.  In the quiet of late morning, after the kids had gone to school, pondering what this changing of my heart meant, a huge sob welled up inside me, then that little voice beckoned "be brave, do it, it's not crazy."  With shaky hands I moved the berries next to my pie in the freezer, allowing myself to rest in the knowledge that God has my back and it was time to process this.




And here I am, leaning into this piece of my grief, and surprisingly it is revealing to me a peculiar strength I was completely caught off guard by.  I am gobsmacked every time, how life is always incredibly entwined with itself.  You see, my heart is not handling the current tipping point of parenthood well.  I told Nick last night after a dance moment in Trader Joe's with my child running for cover, that I now embarrass and am not always wanted.  Ouch.  And all at once I am the child who left her family after ice cream pie to go celebrate her 22nd birthday with her friends.  That is a deep guilt I have held on to for 19years packaged tightly in shame.  Seeing this child that is me, as my own child, I begin to understand, and the shame is stripped away.  How could I?  Because I was just a kid, my mom was my foundation, she would be there in the morning just as my child knows this as I dance through TJ's.  I'm a constant, as my mom was a constant up to that point.  (yes, life has shown me otherwise but this is not the "lesson" I want to pass on to my kids.  Rather - it's living and loving into each and every day, not living in fear as if it's your last.)   The significance of this for me is that once the shame is removed, healing can begin.  It's not impenetrable as I had always thought.   And there is the gift of understanding my mom better knowing how she must have felt - happy to send her child off to celebrate and sad to see her go.  I'm all at once more grace-filled with that child inside me and my own children, and closer to my mom.  As I type this my breathe catches.  



This piece is far from reconciled but I've never felt the courage to face it until now.     

Ironically, as I get towards the end of this post I hesitate to share the awakening moments in this process, I did not know where this post was headed when I began writing it many drafts ago.  There have been so many moments in these 19yrs that have been filled with what felt like ugly, crazy, cancerous feelings.  And that was ok, raw, real.  And still is ok.  And is necessary - whether to purge some of the pain or simply to survive through it.  I am sure there will be more.  Each time it's less intense - excruciating is replaced with a dull aching but it still hurts in a way I can never explain to someone who hasn't lost.  To those reading this and thick into grieving please hear that, and know that you are not alone, and that grief happens in it's own time for everyone.  I will type it again, 8 years of professional counseling, a very strong support system that has scraped me off the ground more times than I care to count, and simply time, 19 years learning to trust and listen to that quiet courageous voice.   


Courage in grief shows up in many ways, in the beginning simply getting out of bed, eating a meal regularly, desperately trying to stop the bleeding from injuries unique to every person's grief - for me it was hearing "Happy Birthday" without falling apart,  it all takes amazing amounts of courage, and eventually that quiet steady voice will lead you through the seemingly insurmountable stuff promising healing on the other end.  I have absolutely lived and firmly believe all of this.  




There is no how-to here, but in this sacred space of grief work I have learned the following is what I need, and damnit if I am going to be an open book with this pain process, my hope and prayer is that perhaps this will help another person who is reading this...

GRACE.  To feel, to heal, to take space and to throw in the towel when it's too much, to go to bed early, for goodness sakes leave the dirty dishes.  To snuggle and watch a movie with my kids just because I can't parent in that moment.  To have ice cream for dinner.  To be OK with not being ok.  I am NOT dropping the ball,  I am healing.  It's ok, it's ok, it's ok.  


CARE.  Extra rest when wrestling with big emotions, extra water to replenish the tears.  Fresh-ground peanut butter and really good bread, this sounds silly as I type it but that combo is easy to make and comforts me on all levels, taking care that I am nourishing my body.  Finally the regular physical, emotional and mental release I get from working out.  I have most definitely cried in my workout class more than once.  


SPACE.  it's crawling back into bed after the kids have gone to school to let the quiet clear my mind before I start my day but also blasting that specific playlist bc my heart needs to scream...Andra Day, Lauren Dangle, Lizzo, Taylor, Macklemore, Crowder.  It's what would otherwise be routine activities that my mom meets me in...gardening, mopping the floor, and scrubbing the kitchen sink.  It's both focused journaling and getting lost in the creative process.  Sacred space shows up in all of these places.


SAFETY.  This one means a few things to me.  Accepting my fragility, it's ok to not be thick skinned, to need boundaries in place for relationships, for social media, and for interacting in the world.  Acknowledging that this is temporary helps me to listen to and honor my needs.  It's telling Nick if I just can't, and if needed, seeking counseling.


For me, the transformation process that leads to reconciliation in grief happens in new eyes to see and new ears to hear, and a part of my brokenness mended...I no longer feel like I need to "get rid of" my pie.  Needing to keep this leftover does not mean I'm unhinged, the gut-check that deep down I already knew.   Goals according to the world more often than not do not match up with the grief journey.  While intended for good, and for progress, it just made me feel like I was always failing.  

“Our silence about grief serves no one. We can't heal if we can't grieve; we can't forgive if we can't grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.”
~Brene Brown, Rising Strong.

I had thought the reason for sharing this process would be to let other people know they are not alone, in publishing these words I feel like I'm going to throw up, which I expected, but I oddly also feel free, and actually gave myself permission to acknowledge the significance of my own present journey,


so thank you so much for reading.
Kirsty


4 comments:

  1. It takes courage to lose and to grieve our losses. I hope you find peace.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing. It has helped me in validating my own feelings - and given me one more nudge towards counseling that I know I need. Thank you 💗

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