We talk a lot about finding a ‘new normal’ with people when they lose someone, especially a child. We all know that life goes on and we will eventually reintegrate ourselves with the world again. Sometimes the easiest part is going back to your old routine, feeding right back into the groove you used to have and hope it feels like it used to. The problem I’ve had with that is that after having and losing Jonah, I’m not the same person I used to be. I’ve learned and grown after coming apart and being put back together but just like anything else the parts don’t fit the same way they used to. You will always be able to tell that I came apart.
In these last several months I’ve tried to find what normal for me is like now but I’ve never quite gotten there. Maybe it’ll take longer and maybe I’m just impatient, but there’s nothing that makes me more uneasy than trying to feel comfortable somewhere – anywhere – and end up stopping out of exhaustion. Things look the same but feel different because I’m the one that changed. I can’t expect to feel the same when things fit differently. I’m realizing that while others might be able to find something normal feeling in the world they used to live in, I may never get there. I need to change my world and mindset to adapt to where and who I am now.
I need to let it burn.
Everything I hold close is in a safe already. Occasionally I open it to put new things in or to spend time with what I’ve locked away, but it isn’t going anywhere. The walls I’ve built to hold everything I need now only keep anchored to a windowless room. Looking back, losing Luke was the kindling and Jonah was the match. Working through losing Jonah was about grieving the memories we would have made and the life we would have built together. It was about shattering the normal we were moving towards and looking at the pieces, hoping they would assemble themselves again. And between Jonah’s birth and today I’ve been standing in the smoke; it fills my lungs and stings my eyes while I search for a way out. I had never thought to just wait it out, or that losing Jonah was never about learning to survive going through hell.
It was about learning to live in the flames.
Waiting for it to get hot enough that the only things left were my foundation and my safe. Waiting to get to the point where I can see outside again and breathe fresh air. Waiting to understand that I’m not strong because of things I’ve been through but because I came out a better person in spite of it. I’m standing in the ruins of what my life used to be, feeling Jonah’s love raining down on me after hoping to feel like myself again, and I realize that I’m not waiting for it to come back but for the freedom to feel like I can rebuild. If you’re out there, like me, hoping and waiting and trying and fighting because you know you’ll make it and just don’t know how… Take inventory. Put the most important pieces of yourself in that safe we talked about.
And burn it to the fucking ground. You made it through hell and are still standing. You are capable and loved and strong and worthy, and you’ll feel it again. I’m trusting that the foundation I’ve built over the years – one of character, loyalty, and integrity – will serve the new normal I’m working on. In rebuilding something that fits me moving forward, I’m able to bring my children with me and not just because I survived it – but because I became fireproof in the process. So let it burn; we will rebuild.