I've been thinking a lot about my last post and how easy it was to label the year, how simple it was to sweep the good away and focus so sharply on the pain and struggle.
I think it's fair to say 2010 was one of our hardest years. Even if the rest of the year had been dream-perfect (and it wasn't), the loss of my brother would color my memories of the year. Although we've lost people we love before, we've never experienced anything like the shock and grief of Brent being taken from us. And even after Brent's death, we were bombarded by deaths of loved ones and tragedies all around us. I attended way way way too many funerals. Life has never felt so fragile.
When compared to this depth of loss, the rest of our challenges seem petty. But even petty things weigh you down when loaded one after another after another: the really old dog, depression after the move, financial struggles, loneliness, the slowly potty-training boy, other parenting struggles, so many broken things, more financial struggles, car problems, losses of relationships, house problems, weeding (I know that you may think including weeding is so silly. You haven't tried to weed this yard), $600 water bills, the loss of my hard drive (which included the loss of more than 2 1/2 years of pictures and writing), personal inadequacies, and finally, suffering from challenges that must be kept close and private. These quiet griefs are often the loneliest and heaviest kind. Because they're unable to be shared, no one shoulders part of this burden, no support is offered as there is so abundantly during a public grief. It's been a hard, hard year.
This is what the spirit has been whispering to me this week while I'm about my usual business, while I'm studying scriptures, while I'm quiet, while I'm practicing. "And yet..."
A part of me doesn't want to admit to the good, to the growth. It's the part that says, "How can you even consider happiness when Brent's not here anymore? That's so selfish, so small-minded, so forgetful." How can I reconcile his loss with ANY gain?
There is gain. Irreconcilable as it may be, I have grown this year, despite AND because of the great losses.
I have witnessed hearts opened wide to me. I have felt the support of prayers. I have received inspiration. I have seen beauty. I have made new friends and deepened old friendships. I have moved forward on dreams. I have experienced miracles. I have laughed, loved, and learned.
And my family has changed as well. My children are happier than they were at the end of last year. They're finding their footing, growing into themselves.
We never know what waits around the corner of each year. I never would have guessed what 2010 held for us. I don't know what 2011 holds. But I know that we must have sweet and bitter, this terrible and great duality, to truly live.
My great challenge, then, is to face the future openhearted and full-faced. To accept that great pain waits for me and so does great beauty, and to not flinch as it comes.
It's a beautiful journey.
Even when it's hard.