There are moments in life that define us, moments that change the very fabric of who we are, the way we feel, what we believe, and even how we act - moments that change us, down to the very core of our being - moments after which nothing is, or ever can be, the same.
For me, this defining moment began with the sudden loss of my beloved friend and brilliant chiropractor in May 2012, followed by my father in January of 2015, followed by my mother-in-law exactly one month after my father, followed by the death of my nearest brother one year after that in February of 2016, and then ending with the unexpected passing of my mother just 15 months later in May 2017. This was five huge losses in my life, with 4 of those losses being family members who all passed away in a little over 2 years. With barely any time to fully process each loss as it happened, grief slowly threatened to smother my light to the point that the whispers of darkness and the tears of desolation brought me to the brink of real depression for the first time in my life. And what’s remarkable is that most people did not know this. I hid it extremely well. It makes me wonder how many out there are hurting, grieving, alone, and afraid or unsure how to ask for help.
My journey from light to dark and back to the light is chronicled in a long series of poems and writings that began almost immediately after my father's death in late January, 2015, and continues still to this day, 6 years later. Writing, unbeknownst to me at the time, was to become my lifeline - my way through the darkness of grief, and back to the light of hope. Though I am today grounded in a place of happiness and gratefulness, by faith and by choice, I still have days of overwhelming grief and sadness. I embrace them as they come, knowing they are poignant reminders of the beauty of how deeply we love and connect as human beings. Perhaps grief helps us maintain a feeling of profound connection with our lost loved ones. Perhaps grief is our portal to another dimension where we actually do connect energetically. Perhaps it’s merely a vessel for our endless tears of loss. I only know I no longer fight it; rather, I welcome its visits, its messages, and its emotional outlet.
I know I am not, nor will I ever be, the same person I once was. You simply cannot be who you once were after your heart suffers immense loss. When you lose so many pieces of the puzzle of your life picture, and when your whole foundation of family, function, and familiarity shifts from its very footers, you are forced to reevaluate where you fit in the whole. You are forced to assess, with blinding self-evaluation, the good, the bad, and the ugly of your relationship with the lost loved one. You wonder why it had to happen. You wonder why it wasn’t you. You wonder if you gave enough. You wonder if you were there enough. You wonder if you loved enough. You wonder if they knew just how much. You wonder how you could have made the end of their life better. You wonder how you could have prevented what happened. You wonder what you would do and what you would say if you had just one more day with that person. You wonder if you made a difference in their life. You wonder how much time you have left. You try to redefine who you are without this person in your life. You struggle to make a new normal without them there. You struggle how to be who you once were when you can no longer possibly be that same person.
You struggle to find you again.
And, as if this loss, self-reflection, and redefinition aren’t enough heartache and challenge, you are forced to come to terms with death as it relates to life. You smack head first into your own fundamental beliefs about why we are born, what our purpose is for being here, the impact we have (both known and especially unknown), the influence we do or do not have over how and when we die, the daily choices we make that affect that eventual outcome, and what happens to us after we pass. This process cannot happen without reflection, growth, challenge to - and potential change of - long held beliefs, all of which are more often than not accompanied by some pain of transformation.
For me, as I suspect it is for most, this life altering change has been both challenging and beautiful, and has ultimately grown me in ways too many to adequately verbalize. And it continues to do so. For all of it, I am grateful. Rising out of every tragedy is the promise of hope, the love of God, the power and resilience of the human spirit, and the possibility that exists in the unknown. I am still rising.
This poem is the summation of that journey.
It's called, Grief’s Seasons:
In the winter of my life there came an avalanche of darkness,
storm clouds of anger and grief, gusting winds of despair,
drifts of buried sorrow, road-gray piles of gloom,
blizzard-like curtains of hindered visibility, heavily blanketed sounds of nothingness.
I was lost in the coldness of separation.
I was drowning in the absence of light.
I hibernated in denial and endless decay.
I stayed stuck in a frozen terrain of hopelessness
until I fought to see the life before me.
In the light after the storm came the spring of my rebirth,
sounds of reawakening slowly piercing my thick veil of loss, heart stirring with the melting of sorrow's ice,
limbs outstretched with the promise of hope, bud's bursting with the assurance of new life,
mind's barren, gray, icy landscape slowly defrosting, spirit's resilience resurrected in new growth's yellow-green warmth.
I was revived by a living nature.
I was embraced by a perfect God.
I was held in the cradle of Mother Earth's knowing.
I was reborn in the comfort of grace.
I was baptized in the truth of eternal life.
Now in the summer of my life I rise to shine,
bright with love, colored in wisdom's beauty,
grounded in earth's energy, planting seeds of healing,
beaming with rays of possibility, grateful for the warmth of the sun.
I am feet touching ground, arms outstretched to heaven.
I am hands touching earth, spirit connected to spirit.
I am energy, I am love.
I am of God, I am evermore.
©Chris Colyer January 20, 2018