I’ve been working on this post all week, I thought it was done and I had it scheduled because today is the day, it’s Luke’s birthday. He would’ve been 37 but he’s not, he’s forever 34. I’ve been dreading this day but I woke up this morning feeling relatively happy. To be 100% honest, I didn’t wake up in a fog of “today is Luke’s birthday”. I only really thought of it when I saw my Facebook memories and they are filled with him. Of course those memories hit me like a ton of bricks; one-part because it freaking sucks (it just does) and two-part because I shocked myself for not waking up with it. How could it be that I’ve been carrying it all week, all month but I didn’t let it drown me this morning?
Have I cried today? No, I haven’t. I certainly felt the cry lump when those memories flooded my feed but I mostly felt guilty, guilty for waking up happy. No, no more. I have to stop. I’m healing and that is something to smile about, to cry happy tears over. I’ve cried some this week, whether or not I cry today is irrelevant, it shouldn’t matter if I’ve cried over the course of the week or the month. Tears aren’t THE SIGN that say we miss and love our people, they are not weakness or setbacks, just like laughter doesn’t say we’re over it and we don’t love and miss them. Let laughter in, let go of guilt, one life has already been lost, don’t lose yourself, too. Did I forget about Luke this morning? No, I never will forget about him but he’s not here, I can’t obnoxiously surprise him, singing my made up birthday song, with a stupid amount of balloons and a cupcake. As much as I’ve fought it, I have to realize that Luke was a chapter…a long chapter, full of very high highs, and low lows (pre and post cancer). Our chapter was long but our story was short, this song pretty much nails it. Listen here.
My grief, my pain over the past two-ish years has been another chapter; we’ll just title that chapter “What the Hell Are You Doing?” this chapter would be full of lots of just crap; grief, mistakes, anger, long nights, tears, dark darks, set backs, “starting over” about a billion times. Falling a part, falling back together, falling down, getting back up, falling again, getting back up, being at peace, being at war…with the world and mostly with myself. I’m tired of fighting, myself and the world. Of course this chapter has some happy pages; realizing how unbreakable my bond with my family is, meeting Kim, buying my house and making it a home…loving people through my anger and finding out who would love me back, learning a lot about myself, losing my faith and fighting like hell to get it back, which I have. Thankfully, amazing faith. There is a lot of beauty, a lot of light in this chapter of mistakes, darkness and “grief”, it just took me a long time to see it.
I’ve said it before, it is time to try to close this chapter and really, really embrace my next chapter, we’ll title it “Be Still, Steph”. How will this chapter read? I’m not sure but I know I’m the one who gets to write it. Can I control all of the factors? No, most of us have learned that the hard way, BUT I can control how my story is written. That’s the great thing about being a writer, I guess we are all writers, whether we write or not. I hope I have a lot of chapters left. I don’t know what they will be titled but I know “Luke’s Chapter” and my “What the Hell Are You Doing Chapter” and now the “Be Still, Steph” chapters have equipped me with armor, grace (I’m still working on grace but I like to think I’m further along than I was), strength and space. Space? Space for love, happiness, forgiveness, peace with my past, hope for my future. I want space to let go of what was said, what wasn’t, what never will be said or heard. I want more space to celebrate my successes and less space for criticizing myself. I want space to grow, to help, to continue to heal, not only myself, but others.
What will the rest of my day look like? I planned lunch with a good friend so I wouldn’t end up sitting at the cemetery. I’ve decided I’m not going today, I don’t need to, Luke knows where I am, when I need him to be close. I want to enjoy this beautiful day, have lunch with a good friend, make it through my work day without ruining my makeup (I’ve cried a little trying to get through this). Tonight, when I pick up Jack I’ll hug him, thank God for this life I’ve been given, I won’t be angry or sad for what’s been lost, and I’ll ask God to tell Luke Happy Birthday for me. Luke isn’t top of mind all day, every day anymore but he is and always will be a part of my story, a chapter I love to hate. I carry a piece of his heart, and he carries a piece of mine, we made that deal ages ago. His chapter is truly a beautiful tragedy, one a lot of people probably wouldn’t understand if they could read it and that’s okay, it’s my book.
To my readers, my blog is yours, not Luke’s. My blog is for you, for me…it’s to healing, to laughing along the way, crying when we need to. My blog is being honest about life and all of its ups and downs (not just loss). You are the beginning of my “Be Still, Steph” chapter. I have a purpose beyond being J’s Mom (thank God I am that) but you are in my healing and have become a part of my purpose, helped me discover my love of poetry. I’ve never “met” a more loving, supportive, tough as nails group of individuals. You really are the best and I wish I could hug you each individually. We all have a chapter, maybe some of you have entire books dedicated to your person, I just hope there are more chapters for you after, or maybe you can begin to write a new book. I think that’s what they would want for us. I have always hated the saying, the idea of “life goes on” but it does, it has to and if you let it, maybe the view won’t be so bad.
So, “Be Still, Steph” page 1…