» Vessel. Voice. Visionary.

Because, its my time.

Behind The Wheel

I drove. For the first time, I didn't drive in a limo or another person's car. I was behind the wheel of the car that drove in the funeral processional. It was the marker of how grown I was; this time, I wasn't being shielded from the pains of death--I was head-on in it. It felt weird, icky almost. I didn't want to do it once it began. I wanted to relinquish control, be able to give up the wheel and retreat to the back seat where I could stare out the window and imagine myself somewhere else, or escape to sleep. Now, this post isn't all about death and neither is my blog; rather it's about the process of growing up. It's not easy. It comes with great rewards and great pains. Driving behind the wheel made me acknowledge that I had a license, a car, a degree, an apartment, bills to pay etc.---grown up responsibilties. It also made me acknowledge that even when I didn't want to do something, it didn't matter. If it had to be done, it had to. I realized the sacrifices of growing up. It was my boyfriend's uncle so of course he shouldn't have driven, and his little sister couldn't drive so I was the perfect and only candidate. It was the last place I wanted to be, but the only place I needed to and should have been. I had my own battles, but my boyfriend needed me in his so I had to put my adult pants on, and even if it hurt, be present. 

The greatest lesson though, is past the sacrifices themselves--it's the strength in the sacrifice. The last funeral I went to didn't work out in my favor; I was a big ball of mess, and I didn't think I would be able to go to funerals for a long time. Now, I'm sure I won't be attending funerals all "willy nilly", but I made it through this one. And I'll make it through another one day. There is an untapped well of resilience within me. In my process of growing up while getting older (because they can happen independently of one another), I realize that there is more in me than I give myself credit for. I am more than even what I allow myself to be. The sacrifice that day didn't show my strength: my strength showed my sacrifice.

The Ultimate Paradox

Death must be the most paradoxical thing I know. With few other things does a dichotomy exist. How does one both rejoice and mourn over death at the same time? How is one supposed to be grateful that their loved one no longer has to feel the sting of life on earth while simultaneously acknowledging the void that they have left? This week should be one of the happiest weeks of my life and for the most part, it is. I am graduating from college after four years with a bachelor's degree. I did the major I wanted and I have nothing but brightness in my future. But, one piece of the puzzle is missing, and pieces of other puzzles are making their way into mine.

My father died when I was eighteen years old, three years ago on July 30th. It still seems like a foreign concept to me. People have said that they've seen me grow with dealing with it and that is true to a degree, but the other truth is that I've done a great job of covering how I really feel. As a newly elected minister in training, I never really got a chance to do the whole mad at God, lock myself away from civilization and refuse to get out of the bed thing. I had to immediately display grace and strength and be joyous that my father was in the bosom of the Lord as a believer. But looking back, that stifled my grieving process. I didn't realize that I could still love God with the all of me and love the all of who my father was to me as well; after all, God gave him to me. Now, three years later, I struggle with crying and mourning because I don't even know what it truly looks like or feels like. In one of the happiest weeks of my life, facing one of my biggest accomplishments, one of my biggest motivators and supports isn't here to celebrate with me. Yea, I get the "he's looking down on me" but I want him to be looking face to face WITH me. How do I both celebrate the joy of walking across the stage while realizing that it's happening without my dad in the audience? To be honest, there's a little twinge of guilt because I want to be beaming with pride but.....

Then, there's the other pieces of puzzle. My boyfriend experienced a loss in his family. He is fresh in a grieving process, as is his family and naturally, he's sad. But herein lies the dichotomy that is death, even past just the concept of it. The effects of death are far-reaching. Here, I want and should be there for my boyfriend but I want and should be there for me and my special day too. How do I balance? I feel awkward and even a tad guilty being happy around him as he mourns, but I then feel guilty not being happy because I deserve to; all because of death.

For me, death has just been a thief. I'm sure over time, I'll see it as a blessing in all parts of me, but for now, everything in me doesn't have that viewpoint. I want to cry but I don't want to cry, I want to lock myself away but then I want to be around others. I want to heal but then it hurts too bad. Deep down inside I know I'll get it one day; until then, I'll deal as it comes. One day, I'll be able to tell my story and be okay with how it all turned out.

Dad, this week is for you.