It’s a blistery, fall day. The leaves are beautiful outside, but there is a biting wind. It’s a good day to be inside a coffee shop. I’m holding my freshly ordered maple latte, enjoying the warmth of the cup when the sinking feeling hits me.
The last time I had a really good maple latte was in Des Moines, Iowa. I remember it well because it was absolutely delicious - the best one I had ever had! Discovered in the midst of a challenging trip as Josh and I were on our way to the Mayo Clinic. We stopped in Iowa as a halfway point, enjoyed the coffee shop and walked around the sculpture garden. Josh was doing okay, but still was struggling with cognitive issues, making the trip interesting. We were on our way to Minnesota, seeking more hopeful answers.
Sitting here now - two and half years after that trip, on the other side of the "what if" - this sinking feeling of sorrow hits me once again. My eyes tear up in the buzzing coffee shop, but no one sees that detail. Grief hits like that - it is as if you are suddenly hit by an imaginary, oversized balloon hammer - I know oddly specific, but that’s what I imagine. Not so much a mac truck but still an uncomfortable blow.
These feelings don’t hit me every day, or every time I go to a coffee shop, but they do today. This is the constant challenge of grief – its unpredictability. How easily it unwelcomingly enters a moment or scene, and how often it makes no sense to anyone else. And especially how often it can make you feel alone and lost within it.
Pondering this all, I continue to sip my latte, blinking away the watery eyes - opting to tackle these feelings once again by writing (instead of avoiding and working on another problem I could solve). Writing still provides a way for me to process.
It’s no secret I still miss Josh. It’s a fact - as is the fact he isn’t here. Accepting this fact is still hard. Grief is hard. And I know other people feel these same feelings about their own special loved ones. Missing Josh doesn't stop me from enjoying this day but it does cause a stumble. I'm embracing the stumble. I write my thoughts not solely to put my personal journal into cyberspace, but I write with hopes of encouraging others out there struggling with their own beautiful yet agonizing memories. Grief requires us to look backward and forward - figuring out this balance is complicated. Maybe it’s too simple, but after sitting a few moments trying to figure out a solution for myself once again, I take five deep breaths and in my head (and on digital paper) offer up a thanks:
Lord, thank you for that special memory.
Thank you for Josh.
Thank you for our life together
Thank you for being with me even right now.
Thank you for TODAY’S maple latte and for whatever you are going to do next.
Five lines of thanksgiving. Five deep breaths.
This exercise doesn't erase my grief or memory but does help.
I hope it provides you grounding in the moment you might need it too.
Today’s verse of the day also happened to be one Josh's favorite ones:
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.