When I used to drive by an unkempt yard, a run down house or bumped into an untidy person, I would think, “Goodness! Don’t they care about their yard, home or appearance? They need to do better! I would NEVER let my (fill in the blank) look like that.”
I don’t do that anymore.
Because I’ve learned that there are all kinds of reasons a body may not be busy mowing a lawn, painting a porch or even putting on matching socks.
And when it does, it demands all my energy, effort and attention. I don’t have the time or luxury of worrying about things that aren’t absolutely necessary for survival.
When Dominic left for Heaven, my priorities were immediately shaken out, sifted and re-ordered. Not only the big ones-like spending more time with the people I loved-but also the smaller ones-like whether or not I swept the front porch before someone visited.
More than four years later and I look around sometimes wishing I was better at keeping up with things, better able to tidy up, decorate for the seasons, mend the fences, stay on top of clutter, or put together decent outfits.
But then I pause, breathe and realize that while the outside looks messy and unorganized and not at all like I’d prefer, my inside is focused on the things that really matter.
I am spending most of my time caring (one way or another) for other hearts.
Now when I see someone’s home that needs attention or someone who isn’t put together, I think, “What battle are they facing? What life circumstance has swallowed up their time, energy, and emotional reserves?”
Don’t you justLOVEphoto filters? They can transform a not-so-great picture into a work of art.
And with our phones attached to our hips like another appendage, we are one photo-snapping generation!
But when we choose what to make public-what to plaster across our favorite social media platform-most of us are as cautious as museum curators in deciding which pictures to include and which just don’t make the cut.
We are all about personal branding (even if we don’t realize or admit it!)
Of course this is nothing new-Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that there “is nothing new under the sun”. It’s simply that what was once reserved for the rich, famous or infamous is now available to every Tom, Dick and Harry-and their kids.
I know when I want to share a moment on my little farm or show off some newly completed craft project, I’m very careful to zoom in and crop out the messy edges of my home, my property, my life.
It’s truly not that I’m trying to “be somebody I’m not” it’s more about trying to only let people see part of who I really am.
Because who wants all the ragged and untidy borders of their life exposed to the masses?
I’m afraid there would be too much ‘splainin’ to do (like Ricky used to say to Lucy) if people saw it all.
I might have to own up to my less-than-perfect housekeeping or my procrastination that means I still have piles of junk on my porch nearly four years after Dom left us.
Someone might freak out that my cats are allowed on the kitchen table (where we don’t eat) because it is too hard to keep them off.
People may whisper that they just can’t understand how I live with piles of books stacked everywhere and random animal supplies in baskets by the door so they’re handy to grab on my way outside.
But when I edit the life I expose to others, I’m also limiting my opportunity to make genuine connections.
Because if the people around me think I’ve got it all together, then they can be afraid to admit that they do not.
If the folks that follow me on Facebook think my life is all giggles and glitter, then they might be reticent to reveal that theirs is shadows and sorrow. If all I ever do is talk about, post and promote the high points of this journey, then who will want to tell me that they are in a valley and can’t see sunlight or maybe that they’ve even forgotten what sunlight looks like.
So I’m going to zoom out.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see funny photos or hopeful posts or encouraging memes on my timeline.
But it does mean that I’ll be out there-big hips, messy house, piled up books and all.
One of the hardest parts of blogging for me is that I am committed to authenticity. As best as I am able, I try to be honest and transparent.
This entry was tricky.
I never, ever want to minimize ANYONE’S pain-in my mind there is no hierachy of misery. But I also want to let those outside the child loss community see how much it hurts to have our loss compared by others to their very different losses. We would much rather you simply take our hand or hug us or sit silently with us on the mourning bench.
So, here it is. I hope you receive it in the spirit in which it is intended.
It is just so hard to accept that remaining silent is often better than saying the wrong thing.
It seems like every quiet space MUST be filled with chatter-especially in our overstimulated world of screens and noise boxes.
But, I promise-if you and I are speaking, and I choose to expose my heart-I would rather you take my hand or hug my neck and say nothing than tell me, “I understand exactly how you feel.”
Unless, of course, you do.
If you have buried a child, then please, please, please tell me that! We will cry together.
But there is no comparison between losing an aged aunt, full of years, and losing a child, full of promise.
There is no comparison between losing a job, a house or a dream-any of which have the potential for restoration in this life– and losing a child–whom I will not see until I reach heaven.
There is no comparison between losing a pet and losing my son.
It’s the difference between being hungry because you skipped lunch and starving to deathbecause you don’t have access to food or water.
One is uncomfortable and the other is excruciating.
So, while I deeply appreciate your desire to empathize with me, please don’t try to stretch your limited experience with loss to include my own.