I haven't been into Halloween since I was no longer allowed to go trick-or-treating. I probably won't get back into it until I have kids of my own and can enjoy it with them. It's probably only the trick-or-treating that will lure me back in. We all know I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas!
The funny thing about grief, especially deep grief, is that it changes you. For many months after April 3rd, even now on bad days, I would walk around feeling like I was completely lost in my hometown. There were all these familiar faces and I had no idea who they were. Who I was. I would stare into the mirror and the reflection back would be someone with red, sunken eyes, tear stained cheeks, agony. Then I'd get dressed, put on a fake smile and move throughout the day. Who was this person? She looked vaguely familiar but not recognizable in this new reality.
"If you wake up in a different time, in a different place, could you wake up a different person?" - Chuck Palahniuk
Yes, when tragedy strikes you immediately change. You have no choice. You cannot stop it. I'm working through what all of this means. It's a lot of work. It's hard work. At times, I feel like I can't work through it because people have expectations of me. I should be happy. I should be positive. I should not cry and show my grief because it's been nearly 7 months and people might be tired of it. I get tired of it, but it is not going away quickly (the grief counselors say 14 months of really hard work, but there is a lifelong impact) and I have to keep working. Sometimes I feel like I am wearing a costume every single day.
A few weeks ago, I went to the doctor for the first time in a year. The nurse comes in and asks how I am. Then a few minutes later, she repeats the question. I answer, "I'm fine", but in my head, all I am thinking is "Why is she asking the same question so many times? Can she see I have changed? Can she see the hole in my heart?" I continued to smile and prayed she would ask a different question. She did. I survived. I was probably barely convincing that I was fine, but the appointment moved along. I was out the door. I had (un)successfully deceived someone. I just didn't feel like getting into it.
I had to keep going. I have to keep going. Dude wants me to keep going. God will help me to keep going.
I'm starting to look at myself in the mirror and not be so scared by what I see. Glancing at my driver's license is still frightening, but I digress! I see myself changing and am slowly starting to keep the door ajar for the change to peek around the corner. I'm not ready to welcome it, but I'll look through the peep hole and think about letting it in. Really, I have no choice.
The one change I am willing to welcome is that my faith is being strengthened. When the unspeakable happens, when the world is turned upside down, when the man you loved and trusted more than anyone else is gone, you grasp at anything you can.
God, being who He is, has been here the whole time. He is the only constant. He is changing me, and as promised, the result will be a beautiful creation. One day, the sunken eyes, tear stained cheeks and agonizing expression will be gone. One day, I will be able to smile as brightly as Dude did without it feeling fake. One day, I will be able to experience the joy God has for me.
And, maybe one day, I will don a Halloween costume just for the fun of it, not just the candy. But, probably not, I am all about the sweets!