When I look back over some of my old posts, I see how much I use pictures to describe how I am feeling. Usually, I am the one that creates this picture to express how I am feeling, but in this case, it is a picture that was given to me, that has helped me understand my state of being right now.
"Summond," by Colleen Briggs, was given to me for my birthday. There is a fire in front of this woman and she looks like she is pulling her head up to look at it. In my last post, I wrote how surprised I was to find that the nine month mark surprisingly held little solace and instead it has thrust me back into trying to figure this whole Dave died thing out.
One of my first posts after Dave died was about how I felt like I was resting in a bed of hot coals. I would sometimes find a cool spot and other times just take in the fire. At that time, I was clearly feeling the heat, but I wasn’t necessarily looking at it. Then summer came and I think I was still feeling the heat, but in a different way. The fire was still surrounding me, but I had hunkered down in my hot shot firefighter tent, in order to survive.
Sidebar ***While in my foil tent, I even found some space to go out on my first date. This material is too good to pass up, so consider it comic relief to an otherwise serious post.
First of all, I spent a couple days considering what to wear on my first date as a middle ager, only to have it soaked by a leaky shower minutes before his arrival. I tried to steam out the heat, which makes no sense and clearly putting hot water on something, doesn't make the cold water turn dry. So, I grabbed a new wrinkly outfit that was heaped in a pile on the floor for a number of days and put that on Then I proceeded to change my clothes back and forth until the doorbell rang mid clothes change. It turned out to be the neighbor kid. I then texted my date to "Not arrive early under any circumstances!!!!!" I eventually sorted out the clothing debacle and went out on my date. At dinner, one of the waitresses turned out to be one of my former volleyball players from back in my coaching days. Becca Nelson. What an absolute doll. She was updating me about her college life and how she even walked on as a volleyball player. Then she turned the tables, looked at my date and said, "I'm assuming this is Mr. Aldridge." I should have prepared myself for a moment like this. I turned eighteen shades of red and started to panic. For a brief moment, I couldn't remember my date's name (to protect the innocent, we'll call him John Brown), so to buy myself some time to remember, I said, "No, this actually is not Mr. Aldridge. He died. This is . . . . John." Phew! It came to me just in the nick of time. Then I felt like I was so red and sweaty that she probably thought I was lying or cheating or something terrible. Who just says, "he died," about their husband, in the middle of introducing someone else??? All I was thinking as I was wiping the sweat from my brow with my dinner napkin, was "well, that went smoothly." Good gracious! All in all, though, it was an amazing first date and quite a few after that, too, but as it turns out, I'm not quite ready to for reals date at this point.
Anywho . . .
Now, nine months later, I am still feeling the heat, but I’m also ready to look at it. I know I can survive, but now I need to continue walking through the grief. As strange as it sounds, I am anxious to touch the heat, only because I know that if I don’t touch it now, it’ll burn me later.
For the past nine months, there are certain things that I have held at arms length. I have been very selective about hearing others' stories about their grief walk. I have not wanted to read books on grief. I have looked at very few pictures of Dave. I have not dared to open up his playlist and listen to songs that remind me of him . . . until now.
Now, I sit ready to face yet another chapter. The chapter of looking. I want to hear stories of the days surrounding his death. What really happened that day? What did I do or say? What were others thinking and feeling? I also want to do my homework from the grief workshop that I attended. I want to read a couple books that might help me explore or expose some feelings that I tucked away in my foil tent for awhile. I have started listening to Dave's playlist. That might add some comic relief too, if I posted that. I cry a lot when I listen to his songs, but I also smile while I cry. Like when this Miley Cyrus song comes on that he downloaded and I made fun of him for it. His playlist is so unpredictable and I never even knew it until now. Which reminds me. . . last night before dinner, I asked the girls what they thought Daddy would be doing right now, if he were here in the kitchen and they both yelled, "Dancing!" That's what they did, while I taught piano and Dave cooked. I'm so happy they remember that!
While this season of facing and even touching the fire is deeply painful, somehow it is also comforting at the same time. I will hopefully be able to look at everything Dave - his death - his life - his faith - his loves - his pictures - his music - his family - and know that God will continue to walk me through to the other side.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,the holy One of Israel, your Savior.