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Grief Scars

July 1 2007

Dad update I am at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical Center. They have moved Dad here for a second opinion and if possible aggressive chemo and maybe a stem cell transplant. Otherwise his cancer has become so aggressive that if they don ‘t get on top of it with chemo it could be a matter of months. It could get into his brain because the current active lymphoma is near a bundle of nerves exiting the skull and it could travel up them. We are working on a day by day basis. Prayers and thoughts are appreciated.


This year Facebook has taken to reminding me how full summers are with bittersweet memories.

Yesterday this post that showed up on my “On this Day” list brought it all flooding back.

The day in my dad’s doctor’s office hearing this news with my mom and sister.

The fear.

The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The tears that would not stop.

I remember packing for my mom as we prepared to follow Dad to Chapel Hill.

I remember coming back from getting something from the car after we got there to find an entire fast response team in my dad’s room, the doctor’s surprise that my mom had been handling his syncope episodes at home without medical supplies.

I remember calling the NC Regional Offices from the hospital room to cancel my Commission on Ministry meeting and calling the airline to push my return flight to Texas back two more weeks.

I remember watching fireworks on a hotel TV that 4th of July.

I don’t remember when I decided to move home. Just that with everything going on, including my own burnout at school, it was the only choice that ever made sense.

The pain and fear was real and it comes rushing back sometimes.

The anticipatory grief that burned a hole in my heart is a scar that remains, reminding me that every day, every memory between now and then could have never been. And yet, and yet, and yet.

This year I am feeling these reminders a little more intensely. Living on my own, states away from family, is still an adjustment. As impatient as I was for the next thing, the eight years I got with my family were a gift and a blessing in so many ways.

The support of my parents to let me pursue my call.

The time with my dad that was never promised.

Watching my nieces grow into wonderfully smart and passionate girls, showered with the love of Grandma and Papa.

If I’m honest, I am grieving this change, even 10 months in. Maybe because I am 10 months in. This is when everything changed the last time I moved away after all.

There is much to celebrate and be present for in my new place, my new home. But today, this week, I am also sitting with the memories, the grief, and the gratitude.

Today I run my fingers over the emotional scars that are proof of both pain and healing.

Today I make space for where I was 9 years ago, anticipating loss, and where I am today, experiencing a similar but different grief of distance.

Grief is a layered and varied thing, y’all. And sometimes it means sitting on a bus full of sleeping middle school youth, tears streaming down my face in response to the grief I felt 9 years ago.

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