Valentines Day Thoughts on Grief and Devastation. (yay valentines day!)

Dreamed of Larisa last night. We were sitting side by side on the sand, looking out over the ocean. And I started weeping and begged her please don’t leave me. Please stay with me. And we held one another while I cried. In my dream I wanted her to live with us – she was moving out and was going to her new home, but I cried like she had died… because she did. Only my dream didn’t paint that picture. I kept thinking, why are you crying so hard, Sallie? She’s just going home. But I wept because I didn’t want to be without her. I don’t want to be without her. And I woke up with a headache and a grieving heart. I miss my sister. She went home 4 years ago, February 24th (Leo’s birthday). I guess muscle memory is kicking in. 

I suppose it’s nice that she came to see me on Valentines Day. That she held me while I cried and begged her not to leave me. She was stoic and beautiful and at peace. I’ve always wanted to be like her. There are so many things that are uprooted and torn sideways in this world – and I want to be steady and beautiful and at peace. But not stoic. Stoic means – a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. I don’t want to complain, but I believe we must show one another how we feel to be connected in intimacy.

I guess I’ve been defending my predisposition to showing my feelings my whole adult life. I kept saying to myself, it HAS to be ok to be where I am, even though I didn’t really believe it and despised myself for not being able to hide my internal reactions to the world around me. I have been judged, pushed away and left alone due to my emotional states… and it hurt. Which did nothing in the way of tempering my “too big” reactions. Yeah, they were big. Big ole’, crazy, out of control responses to things never really helped anyone. But I know now what I only begged and cried out to God to understand, then.

When the demand is made for me to stop being so emotional ‘or else’, when I am ostracized for ‘over reacting’, when I am told that my feelings are not reality and I am living in an imaginary made up world where things hurt me because of me… it kinda makes me want to freak out. And now I understand that I was also dealing with trauma triggers from abuse in those places, and the surge of pain and emotion I was experiencing was a trigger, not me over indulging in my emotional landscape. 

I don’t know what I’m trying to get at today. My head hurts, it’s never going to stop raining, I miss Larisa, and things feel just ever so slightly like they’re spinning out of control today – just a little, like if I ignore it I’ll stop feeling it and just push on through my day, go take an ibuprofen, and get stuff done. But if I lean into that feeling, then a picture begins to form of me in the middle of a tornado… it’s not tearing me up, but everything around me is being uprooted and torn to shreds. If I pay attention I understand that it’s not fear I feel for being in the center of this devastation wreaking force of nature, but I feel wretchedly sad. And all I can do is watch the old oaks and cedars be torn up by their deep and abiding roots – something you just never think will happen. You just think that those ancient trees planted by the water would never be moved, but then the storm comes and tears them up, roots and all, like matchsticks scattered onto the ground. And I wonder, is it that the earth by the river was too sandy to hold the roots, or is it just that this storm is that bad? All I know is what I am witnessing. All I know for sure is the uprooting.

I remember being tossed in that storm, unlike my current view, standing in the windy center of the cyclone watching the world be torn up around me. All the things I knew – all of them – were called out on the table to be questioned, analyzed and notated. All the things I once knew for certain were now up for grabs, your guess was as good as mine, and that was a terrifying place to be. And the storm raged and the trees and structures I had built around me uprooted and flew apart one by one, board by board. When the storm passed, I had two trees left. They were called “God is real” and the other “He is good.” And it was all I knew, even if I didn’t understand what any of it practically meant, but it was all I had to begin building again. 

I witness the uprooting of people’s belief in the church, and from what I am reading the “white church” in particular, uprooting of relationships, uprooting of life’s mission and dreams, uprooting of our understanding of freedom and what it takes to own it. I am the first to tell you that so many things about the church need to be uprooted and rebuilt on the simple gospel of Christ, there are injustices in or our society that demand to be addressed, even if what we need is more than a change of the guard, we need a change of perspective, and that’s a little harder to come by. It’s painful to watch. It’s heartbreaking to witness the pain of those who are in the middle of the ripping and tearing of the storm, and I resonate with the echos of that pain. The searing pain of loss that brings on the storm in the first place, and the devastation left in it’s path. 

I’m still not sure what I’m trying to say. Perhaps all that’s resonating through and through me on this Valentines Day – is to sing out:

“You are Seen, You are Known, You are loved.”

God

That the reactions to storms often seem to be over the top, something to be diminished, and we are scolded for not being stoic in the midst of crisis. Stoicism never healed anyone’s pain, even if it did help you survive the storm. Storms don’t last forever, but the effects of them often do. The landscape is forever changed, for better or worse, and then we keep moving forward. Our choice in front of us is: will we move forward with those places healed, or will we have to live with part of our heart shut down as we continue to survive the effects of the storm?

But, no matter where you are in the process, you are not in it alone, and the storm won’t last forever, even if it’s been raging so long you can’t remember when it started. When the raging stops, and we know it is safe to come out of our fortified walls of self protection, we can begin to rebuild those internal and external landscapes. The cyclone will break up, the clouds will make way for a stream of sunlight, and we will begin to build again. Together. 

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