Finding Joy When It Feels Impossible

There are very few times when I’m at a loss for words. The past month has definitely been one of them. On Mother’s Day, which also happened to be G-Man’s 21st birthday, we woke up to the unimaginable. We lost our nephew in a tragic accident; he was also 21.

The days that followed were exhausting, with lots of travel, phone calls, logistics, and heartache, while still trying to keep up with school events for the last days of Bean’s elementary school career. Thanks goodness we have a village that kept the proverbial gears turning so we could be where we needed to be. While we got her across the fifth-grade finish line, the missed birthday celebrations for G-Man and the Husband will be on hold for a while.

It’s hard to think about celebrating and gratitude when the people you care about are going through the worst tragedy imaginable. Our nephew was incredibly kind, ridiculously humble, and was taken from his siblings and parents far too soon. I just don’t have any words for the kind of pain they are going through. How do you process a beautiful life cut short?

But, in spite of all of this, I can still find gratitude this summer. When I woke up G-Man that Sunday to tell him the news, and that Husband and I were leaving to head south within minutes, he understood. I’m sure losing your 21st birthday party is disappointing, especially knowing there’s no back-up plan anytime soon. Yet he simply said, “I’m good, y’all go.” Bean understood when I told her that we would be there for graduation but would have to miss most of the other school events that week. Bear let it slide when I blew up at him over the lost guest bathroom hand towels (because at the time, I convinced myself the lack thereof was the end of the damn world when we had family coming to stay). When the crap hits the fan, I’m grateful the Heathens have perspective beyond their years when it comes to crap like this.

Once the dust settled, we went down to my uncle’s camp and the fishing was both therapeutic and fantastic.

Spending mornings on the water and nights on the porch brought both joy and peace. That was both welcome and difficult. Trying to resume “normal” life after loss always is, because when you are caught in the gravity of grief, you often feel like time should have stopped. There’s a certain sense of guilt that lingers until you remember that we honor those we lost by telling the stories, keeping the memories alive, and not by stagnating on principle.

It’s hard to imagine not seeing him, teasing him, or watching him get married or starting a family. Our nephew was an avid fisherman, hard worker, and a gentle soul. Senseless loss cuts deep.

So, for now, we will focus on finding joy, cherishing those we love, and putting one foot in front of the other.

But damn. This f-ing sucks.





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