Trying to live love well through the power of the Everlasting.
On Monday afternoon, climbing out of the refreshing river after a spectacular game of backyard kickball, a friend pointed to a black band on my left ankle and asked about it. I explained to her how it used to be the necklace of an old and dear friend from college, Jilian, but that she had died in a car accident. Her mother gave me the necklace to remember her by, and since I was too big to use it as a necklace I opted to wear it on my ankle.
It didn’t hit me then, but as I thought over the day later that night I realized how miraculous that exchange was for me. You see, I told the story quickly and lightly, with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my chest. I reacted to my friends’ responses with the simple explanation that it was quite alright; thinking of Jilian only filled me with happy thoughts and wonderful memories. The entire topic of conversation lasted approximately a minute and a half, and then we were on to other things.
But five years ago, the thought of Jilian gutted me. The feel of her necklace on my skin, new and unfamiliar to me, served as a constant and jarring reminder of her death. The world was all wrong, would never be okay again, and that’s all there was to it.
Days slipped into weeks, and weeks into months, and months somehow turned into years. I kept breathing, kept living. Sometimes I lived better than others, but live I did. The moments where my brain forgot to focus on the heartbreaking loss grew longer and more frequent, until entire weeks would go by without me thinking of her. Then I’d be getting dressed, slipping on a sock, and my fingers would linger on the fabric of Jilian’s necklace on my ankle. For a moment my heart would twinge, then my lips would crack a small smile, and I’d remember something random that she’d once said or a warm memory we’d shared. Then I’d pull my shoe on and go about my day.
And before I knew it, I was standing on the banks of the river explaining the memorial necklace with a smile and a heart full of joy and love before jumping back into life, my face bright with a smile that can only come from real, authentic happiness.
Somehow, in the five years and four months since she died, my heart healed.
I don’t know when.
But it did.
Grief… takes time.
But eventually, it’s okay.