“I’m thinking I need to get back to normal.”
And so closed the latest email from a dear friend dangling at the seeming end… of something.
After each phase of life, after each season of change or trial or experience, getting back to “normal” is an interesting endeavor once we realize that normal will never be what is was, because we aren’t the people we were before.
After I became a wife, I had to reconcile that self with who and what I defined myself by as a single person destined for greatness. Same as when I became a mother. (Now destined for a different kind of greatness.) After I got a stress fracture in my hip, I had to come to terms with the fact that running long distances would be fraught with pain. Not easy for a runner girl. After I had a miscarriage, I had to make myself okay with a summer far different than I was planning on, one without a baby in tow, or sunbonnets and umbrellas. After my family suffered what I will refer to as “a series of unfortunate events” which included both a death and an apostasy, I had to look at the fragments of what was left and try to find beauty in them yet.
I think I did. In a way. It’s different from what I thought it would be like, but beautiful nonetheless.
Each of us is grieving a loss in some sense. It is a fact of growing up and growing older that proves life isn’t what we thought it would be. Even the smallest of changes can leave us feeling a wee bit bewildered, and the big ones like illness or death and tragedy can make us feel splintered into a thousand pieces and wondering which way is up. And for each of us in these grief processes large and small, eventually we must comes to terms with a new normal, or a new beautiful; simply, a new life splayed in front of us, stretching on before us.
However, don’t get too comfortable with that new normal. Because chances are it will change again, and the path (though newly forged) will divert itself, or end up being a loop, or will become too much to traverse and send you on yet another detour.
Once I had collected my thoughts, I dashed an email back off to my friend. I wanted her to know that I’d been there—that though my heartache might not have the face of her heartache, I understood that floating island, that little perch of not-knowing, that moment before you step off the edge into an entirely new “normal.”
And while I did my son emptied the contents of our spice cupboard into a bowl filled with honey and toothpicks.
“What?” he said: “I was just trying to make a dough.”
A paprika, oregano, nutmeg clustered dough that spilled across the countertops and onto the floor? Suddenly I was caught up in a slice of our normal, and for the minute it took me to grab a wet wipe I considered this:
What’s so great about normal? It can be impossibly trying and messy in its own way. Maybe what we need is something “new”—where the new is like an adventure, somewhat exotic, and embraced wholeheartedly.
How do you ease yourself (or do you jump feet first?) into the process of something “new” when your life suddenly takes on an unexpected trajectory?
And, as you’ve struggled through your own losses, what do you think you’ve gained?
Who are you on the other side of your grieving?
Because I bet the new you is even better than the old you. And I bet I’d like her a whole lot.