When Words Fail

i have been at a loss for words. i have been changed. affected. altered.

i’m not sure how to speak about what happened or what will happen from here on out and so i became frozen. my task was to keep on keepin’ on. this required a fair amount of busying myself with matters of cleaning and diapering and braiding and feeding the tiny humans in my care, but mostly it involved pushing. pushing thoughts, tears, and sadness as hard as i could, concentrating my strength and pulling it all together to make one enormous ball of resistance to try and push tears and processing far from me.

one recent afternoon i ran out of the strength needed and began to cry. on a side note, things that will cover your ugly cry while simultaneously caring for three tiny humans include but are not limited to… turning on the vacuum, needing an immediate shower, checking the mail throughout the day that everyone in this house knows comes at around 6pm, letting a program be watched at incredible life-like movie theater volumes and last but most effective beginning to sing the clean-up song and just watch them scatter in avoidance.

i love my family. i love both my immediate family as well as my extended family and that is a gift so rare and sweet that i don’t know if i’ll ever find it’s equal. this summer i had the opportunity to go on a beach vacation with my parents, brothers, sisters, and nieblings (as Matt and I like to refer to them). during this vacation my sister’s husband went to lie down, had a heart attack, and died. my amazing brother-in-law went to be with the one who made him, leaving my remarkable sister and their 11-year old son to fumble into a new normal they do not want and would never choose.

my sister will never be the same. i’m not being dramatic, it’s just a fact. once you have loved that deeply and lost that suddenly every seemingly normal activity carries a weight and burden whose heaviness cannot be described. my sister is one of the most capable people i have ever met and she will get through this. only i want to simultaneously hold her and never let go and attack death and punch it in the face and scream till i can no longer speak.

Jean Ann and Christini would scream about how when i was in high school and nerding out in my nerdery of excellence, putting incredible pressure on myself and taking part in every sport offered she came home to get me ready for homecoming dances and proms because i really didn’t know how to put on make-up or wear a dress. she would do my hair and make-up and make sure i wasn’t wearing man shoes with my dress. she would tell me i was pretty and give me the confidence to walk tall even though being fancy wasn’t my gig. she let me know that someone loved me when i left the house and was only a phone call away when i returned.

she helped me fill out my college application and showed me the art of the typewriter and white-out combo that would get me through what seemed to be the most daunting task ever. it would be the only application that i would fill out, as i got in early admission, so then she took me on a college visit. she showed me where i would be living, how to navigate getting to and from classes, and let me buy a sweatshirt to wear proudly.

she helped me be comfortable in my skin and walked me through things that seemed too hard at the time. and i feel like i’ve got nothing when she could use the same.

my favorite thing about her husband ed was that he knew how remarkable she was and fought for her. he fought to win her heart and he fought for her heart that she would know her beauty, her strength, and her value in his eyes. i have always been impressed with my brother-in-law, but after helping collect pictures, stories, and piecing his life together through the years i became astounded at the quality of man i was privileged to know and love. i am sad because my sister found the most amazing man and the most beautiful love and i want her to have more time swimming in the peace that these things brought her. i am sad because she will hurt and see her son hurt and have the challenge of walking forward one day at a time. i am sad that i can’t do anything to fix what has been lost.

so what words do you say? you say, well done beautiful sister of mine, you picked well. you chose a remarkable man who labored to love those around him. i will say, i am here and that you don’t need to be okay. i will tell my phenomenal nephew that i see his daddy in him already and that he has such a gift in how that daddy labored to love him. there is peace in knowing he did everything to show both my sister and nephew how much he loved them.

it is our turn to come around you now and hug you at the wrong times and cook you amounts of food that are only appropriate for large cruise ships. to run errands, walk dogs, carpool to scouts, baseball, and golf and attempt to make any part of this less hard. you wake up to a hard road, but we have put on the coffee and are lacing up our sneaks. we do not want you to feel that you need to walk alone.

loss is jagged. grief has no manners or punctuality and always arrives just when you were hoping it would leave. but love is the balm to soothe the pain and remind us that there is an astounding beauty to the length that one beautifully lived life can reach.

thank you ed for reminding me what in life is worth fighting for.

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2 Responses to When Words Fail

  1. Your words are authentic and powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jean Ann Collins says:

    Love you, Christin. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this. It is beautiful and I have read it many times.

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