I have heard grief described in different ways. For example, it is like the ocean, coming in waves; or like a stone you carry around that feels heavy at first, but then you get used to it.
The image that resonated with me, though, was that grief was like fog. Some days the fog would be dense and I could barely see, and others it would be more of a mist. For the past few years, whether dense fog or light mist, I have been seeing the world through a haze. I tried to keep my grief from impacting my day-to-day activities—no sobbing in public for me—but grief has been with me, coloring my world a dull grey.
Grief has been a good teacher, though. It has taught me to be more patient and compassionate, and reminded me how little I know of others’ sufferings. Grief has softened me and helped me be more comfortable with my vulnerability. Grief allowed me to feel what I was feeling without needing to explain.
Another gift of grief is that I seem to be more in tune with nature and the natural rhythms of life; clock time and calendars matter less to me.
Grief has taught me to live smaller and appreciate more.
About a month ago, though, I had a dream that my past was holding me hostage. It was a wake-up call: I could stay with the past or I could move on.
I understand why people adapt the past to the present, to rework memories so that they seem current. Memories offer great comfort, with their familiar people, places and events. It is easy to get lost in memories, in the certainty of the past.
Leaving the familiarity of the past and stepping into the unknown future can be scary. The future seems like a dark abyss, a great risk. But my dream was a clear invitation to let go and move on.
I suppose it had been happening slowly all along, that the days of dense fog were becoming fewer as days of wispy mist became more frequent–only now I am more aware of it. I am choosing to step into the unknown future. The fog has lifted.
I am noticing things and appreciating them in ways I had not for the past few years. Flowers, birds, stars, laughing children, colorful clothes—I can see them again and enjoy them. I am living in Technicolor.
Now, I am planning my future. I am training for a half-marathon in September, and I have started studying Polish again (I dream of living in Poland). I am looking into volunteer opportunities and anticipating concerts and plays this fall.
I am ready to stop talking about the experiences of the past few years and live more fully the lessons of that time—be grateful and let go are my mantras.
I know everything can change in a minute, and so I am appreciating every minute all the more.