Guest blog: Summer to Winter
My guest blogger today is my very own big brother.
Michael is 6 years older than me and over 6 feet tall. He has always been the big and strong brother, but in the past year has been brave in whole new ways. I remember the very first night we were in the hospital together. Michael and I got locked out getting something from the car and had to take a long way around to get back to the small room our family would be sleeping in that night. Michael told me he was feeling the pressure to be the strong one, to be less emotional and more fearless, despite the fact that he was just as scared as the rest of us. I was so proud of his openness and have only been overwhelmingly proud since of the courage he has taken to be angry, hurt, broken, and lost, because that's the road grief walks you down. Michael got all of the creative genes in our family as you'll see in his writing style.
Thankful for you.
“Learning to weep, learning to vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen
This summer - I was reeling from the loss of my father, but found myself having to still do my job. I had flown to California for our largest annual event and had been assigned to filming and conducting some really personal interviews.
In this process, and between interviews, I overheard a conversation begin with a gentleman I did not know, about how his mom had just been diagnosed with cancer. So early in the process that they had no action plan yet, no treatment arranged. Just the sudden weight of it.
By the time we actually introduced ourselves to each other, it was a hug and not a handshake. And we were both in tears.
He and I have kept in touch, often, since that day in the summer. Me to check on his mom and his family, and he to check on mine.
Thursday night, I found out his mom passed away.
I wept for a woman I had never met.
I wept for my friend and his family.
I walked to dinner with my head swirling, unable to be a part of the conversations around me.
And when I made it back to my bed I turned out the lights and typed this note on my phone.
How do you offer “hope” when you can be so certain it cannot yet be felt?
Perhaps “hope” in these moments, is that you don’t hurt alone.
And that maybe, hurting is such a deep part of being human.
Weep. Mourn. Wail.
Let no man question you for this.
Let no man doubt your marrow.
There is so much strength - in coming undone.
I was told grief is love's receipt.
And I let it wash over me. Still do.
Wave after wave.
Left rooms to weep in solitude.
Restaurants. Bathrooms. Hallways. Pulled over and bottomed out. Head on my steering wheel.
Stood sobbing in the shower.
The friends that know that broken, will stand tall when you cannot.
Texts. Calls. Dinner. Silent moments sitting. Pain filling their eyes.
An overflow of their own.
These moments are pure.
Be carried and baptized in their wholeness.
And throw your rocks at the moon.
Every question and hurt and pain and doubt and fear hurled into the night sky.
Core to extremity.
Til you collapse exhausted on a tear dotted pillow.
And wake up only to find the first fleeting moments of the day, where you actually have to remind yourself how much you have lost.
And how much you hurt.
And you sink back into your mattress…
To weep. Mourn. Wail. Freely. Openly.
-Michael James Dalton