where I’ve been.

I’ve written and re-written this post in my head countless times.

The more I’ve allowed time to pass, the more it has changed.

It’s funny how you can start a year with many grand plans, and something can bring them to a grinding halt.  Which can be a good thing. I’ve not been as prayerful, reflective, and dependent on the Lord than I have been in these past almost three weeks.

January has never been an ideal month for my family.  My mother lost brothers in back to back New Year’s and we have lost many close family friends throughout this first month as well.

And sadly, on January 27 my cousin died in the Santa Maria, Brasil nightclub fire.  I won’t even bother to link to it. You must have either heard about it or can search for it easily.

I debated what to post here. This is not about me. And I want to be respectful to the family–her parents and sister–whose loss if far greater than my own. I processed this event greatly through Facebook updates and Instagram and am confident that those who need to be in the know of the grief I’m feeling are. There is no rehash it here, though I will make a couple of points.  Because that’s what a blog is, right?  Reflecting on how something–whether it involves you directly, somewhat directly, or perhaps not even at all (i.e. a national tragedy)  affects you.

Every Saturday since that week I’ve thought about her last day. The implication of the finality of that weighs heavily on me even on other days. I think about what it was like–and more so, I dwell on what my last day would be like. It’s made me take a hard look at a lot of things in my life.  About what I would want to be known for. Especially the last thing I said or the last thing I did. My cousin posted a very ironic last tweet and within hours of the tragedy it she gained thousands of followers and it was re-tweeted almost 7,000 times.  That’s crazy. What will be my legacy?  What will be yours?

I’ve thought about the day it happened over and over too. Waking up, I checked Facebook as I normally do–a bad habit to do first thing; I don’t know if it was bad or good that I did that particular day though–and saw news about being in the hospital.  We had hope.  Turning on the news, it was weird to see my little town splashed on every station. It was surreal that something like this could happen to a place you know. Because when it happens elsewhere, it is obviously so easy to be unemotional and detached. By the time service ended, a text from my dad revealed it was not looking good and I broke down right there and then. By 3:45 that afternoon, our hope was gone.

I’ve seen the great compassion lavished on me by friends who have walked with me through this tragedy.  None more than my husband and son.  I learned of her death through–no surprise–Facebook. We were babysitting and our little friend was asleep so, as not to wake him, I ran into Christofer’s room to sob and wail.  Christofer kept asking, “What happened, Mommy?” and every time I went to answer, my words would get choked up and I could not get them out.  I buried my head in my not-even-9-years-old’s lap and cried and cried.  His little arm patted my back not really knowing what else to do.  Ivan had been out getting groceries and gas.  When I heard him open the door, I ran to him sobbing and he immediately knew what it meant as he chocked back his own sadness and we embraced.  My little Christofer came up behind us and put his arms around us. It was but seconds but it felt like eternity that our little wounded family stood there huddled. It was the most comforted I had ever felt, as if God Himself were embracing me.

The next week was pain-filled. I cried nearly every moment and slept little.  I though I had experienced grief, but little did I know what it could feel like.   I know it could be worse, and sad to say my mind has unfortunately drifted to that notion.

We are better now.  We are a strong unit and the reality is, life has no choice but to move on.

Out of all the questions asked, the one I just want to highlight here is: Were you close with her?

Well, in many ways–no.  And that is an unfortunate reality I will have to live with.

But does that lessen the pain?  In no way.

You see, I am the only American in my family. I only got to know them through summers spent there throughout my childhood, and as I grew through less time only every few years.

I have had to learn to feel “close” to them in other ways to compensate for the lack of physical presence.

Now thanks to the Internet and notably Facebook, I do know my family in the most real way I’ve ever known how.

I knew my cousin through her posts and her pictures. I knew what she loved and how she felt by lyrics she posted and t-shirts she wore.

And I knew that I loved her–and whether I lived next door to her or not, that alone is all you need to feel the grief we all feel in relation to this event.

I can’t explain how I’ve had to learn to be a part of a family that is thousands of miles away.  But we do it.  They love me regardless that it’s mostly through a computer screen.

And dissecting this–through Facebook or Instagram or a blog post–is how I can feel apart of this.  It’s my own way of coping and dealing.

So there’s an update.  Finally.

Adjusting to a new normal.  Stepping back, breathing, evaluating.