The grief diary

Dear Tat,

I remember our last conversation clearly. It was the beginning of June, and even though it was warm out, you were wearing your brown leather jacket. Your hair was short, curly. Even though you’d tried to tame it, it remained untamed. I always liked that about your hair. It was as if your hair gave us a glimpse of your soul — wild at heart, and all that.

The last time we spoke I was holding my niece, Selah — she’d been alive for twelve days or so, and she was the source of my undivided attention. I was a bit enthralled by her. Had I known this conversation would be our last one on Earth, I would have put Selah down and focused solely on you. I would have memorized every inch of your face. I would have counted your eyelashes. I would have recorded our conversation so I could remember the way you said my name. But of course, I thought we had a thousand more conversations to come.

So instead I held my niece and only hugged you with one arm.

We talked about your secret engagement. We talked about how perfect Selah is. We talked about getting dinner when I returned home from London two months later.

“Come home with a British boyfriend,” you said.

“I’ll do my best,” I laughed.

You smiled. “See you.”

See you.

I worry this blog has become a grief diary of sorts. And yet writing down my feelings tends to be the only way I know to sort through them. Perhaps someday I’ll figure out how to sort through my feelings in a less messy manner. (Being an Enneagram Four, I somehow doubt this.)

So I carry on.

My sister gave me a bracelet for Christmas. It’s almost identical to the one Danielle and I gave you for your 18th birthday. It’s a brown leather band with a metal plate. She got it engraved, just like we’d done for yours.

Grace upon grace.

Now I feel as though I carry a little part of you with me wherever I go. That’s not true, of course. I know you are wholly and fully in Heaven with Jesus, but this bracelet reminds me of who you are. You encapsulated grace — a message I’m realizing I have never fully understood until now.

Tat, I have to tell you — I think somehow through your death I have come to understand Jesus’ kindness even more. When you died, I was made tender. The armour I once held so close was stripped from me. I could not carry both armour and grief. I felt stripped to nothing but a deep, crushing ache of sorrow. Jesus met me there. Over and over, he keeps meeting me in this sorrow.

Now I find myself thinking that nothing makes sense when I try and do it on my own. Individuality has always felt crucial to me. I wanted to make my mark on the world. We’ve talked about this dozens of times, Tat. I would always tell you, “I want to do something great.” I correlated greatness with individuality, with success, with being known. And now I feel like I am nothing on my own. I cling to the kindness of Jesus every moment of every day.

You did something great. You were always kind. You poured grace like a river. You did spectacular things — but it wasn’t what you did that people keep talking about. It’s who you are.

2018 will always hold our final conversation. I could throw up at the thought of that. Tomorrow marks a year in which I’ll never be able to talk to you.

I keep your picture on my desk.

I keep your picture in my car.

I keep this bracelet on my wrist.

And Jesus keeps meeting me, over and over and over again.

Like grace upon grace.