There are small, delicate moments scattered in each day. Moments that make life livable. Moments that remind you that you need to take a deep breath. That all your breathing and existing up to that point has been rapid, shallow, panicked, survival.

Since becoming a widow I have recognized that most of my days are spent {just barely} breathing. I’ve even considered a tattoo on my wrist to remind myself of the importance to “just breathe”! Breathing is sacred and is where our energy and life are stored. 

This photograph was captured after hiking. I had looked up after a hurried day, one that the details don’t stand out. There were errands, arguing, obligations, just things you do but in the end what framed the day was this image before me. It caught my breath. I breathed in the majestic scene before me and out the blur of the day, of most days.

Blur mixed with grief, always grief, yielding shallow breathing. 

I breathed out the heaviness I carry for my own grief and survival and that of my children.

In that moment, I felt like an outsider seeing them and the world before me with fresh eyes. The beauty and simplicity of the moment offered me something that the blur of the day hadn’t…refreshment! Refreshment that resonated and settled into my heart. Refreshment that initiated my recognition of the truth: That it was going to be alright.

These past years have been some of the most difficult in my life and have reshaped every aspect of the lives of my children. True, we have come out of the survival period that follows the shock of their daddy unexpectedly dying. True, we have navigated into our new normal and experienced some reprieve from the intensity of the early days of loss. Yet where does that leave us?

It leaves us here. Several years later, in many ways doing so well, but at the base of now a new unchartered mountain rising up before us. This new terrain of teenage years and adulthood that will follow. Unchartered territory. Bandaids and hugs and ice cream no longer make the pain more bearable. As so many milestones lay ahead, somehow the grief takes on new disguises. These past years full of all the tears, frustration, therapy and hard work are not in vain.  We’ve scrambled, fought and worked hard to pick up tools to carry us, but none the less the unknown looms and it is scary! As the mom I wonder, will I have what it takes to face it? Will I be able to have the energy and strength to walk alongside them and help them?

So it serves my mama heart well to go back. To remember how far we’ve come. To give ourselves the credit for not giving up.

Because at the end of the day, as widows and children who’ve lost a parent, we have been given this incredibly special gift to truly know better days and the purity of simple things. To embrace moments that bring joy and reprieve in this life because we came to recognize them at a very costly price.

As widows we know…

What it is to have a last day, a last conversation with someone, without knowing it at the time.

How to pick ourselves up off the ground and face the horrific truth despite the shock that’s paralyzed our minds and bodies.

What it feels like to look our children in their eyes and tell them their daddy died and they won’t ever get to see or touch him again in this lifetime.

How to draw from strength we didn’t know we had to comfort and care for our children when we are falling apart and need comforting ourselves.

What it is to fight against wakening from a dream where our loved one was once again alive and with us. Where we could hear his voice, touch him, be with him, experiencing that wholeness one more time.

We know what it is to…

Press on – do the laundry, make meals, work, run the errands, attend school functions, sit in church – until we are home alone at the end of the day where it is safe to fall apart.

Put a smile on our faces when inside we’re torn up.

Pray not to be recognized or talked to because the moment we speak, the dam holding back all our tears and fear and despair will break and overwhelm.

Comfort others who are saddened by the same loss that has shaken our world & left us in shambles.

We know what it’s like to…

Wake up one day uncertain how we got here because only now has the fog lifted from the shock.

Feel guilty we’re the ones still here. Guilty we have dreams of a future, of love, and happiness.

Think we’re doing okay and then have a surprise wave of grief knock the wind out of us.

Wake up day after day and have to reconcile that our lives will never be the same again.

Come to a place of acceptance. Acceptance that life can still be good. That moving forward brings honor to our loved one.

And, we know what it takes to muster up all of our brave to get to here, to today.

Because we know…

The small, delicate moments do not pass by us. This is a gift that comes from grief. And why all days should end as perfectly as the moment in the photograph.