Just Keep Showing Up
It has been 4 months...four months since our world was turned upside down, four months of unimaginable sorrow and loneliness, four months since my Jeff passed away. It has been four months of coming to realize that I am a widow and a single mom, and that my son does not have a father.
People ask me all the time how Jon Alex and I are doing. Most of the time my reply is that we are “okay.”
We are okay, but the reality is that our hearts are broken into a million pieces. We miss Jeff in ways no words could describe, and we have an ache in our souls that is often unbearable. The chasm left by Jeff’s absence is enormous, and many days I just want to close the blinds and lock the doors. I often wish we could wake up from this horrible dream and discover that this is not our reality...but it is. And, as I said years ago about being a parent of a child with profound special needs, “sometimes my reality is just too real.”
When I am at work at Rising Above things are easier. I am busy and productive, and I feel like in some way I am making a small difference in the world.
But then there’s the drive home. There’s one spot on the drive where it usually happens. As we turn the curve, the reality hits that we are coming home to an empty house and the tears start to fall. It also happens at meal times when it is just Jon Alex and me and Jeff is not sitting across the table. Or when Jon Alex wants to swing and his dad is not there to push him. Each time my heart breaks all over again for our son.
The house is so quiet now. Jeff and I were always talking! When he was having a good day we all knew it because he would be singing one of his favorite songs from the 80’s. He always had a corny joke to share and loved to make everyone laugh with his one liners.
Now there is just silence, and it is deafening. Sometimes the grief is so fierce that I literally feel as though I have been sucker punched in the gut.
Shortly after Jeff died, my sister gave me this advice, “Just keep showing up.” When the days are hard and you want to give up, just keep showing up to your life. When you think you can’t go on, just keep showing up. When you think you can’t take one more step and you want to quit, just keep showing up to your life.
And that is what I have tried to do. Just keep showing up, even when I don’t want to or don’t feel like it.
The enemy wants us to isolate ourselves. He lies to us by saying we will be safer and that we can protect ourselves. We believe the pain will be less if we don’t show up. Isolation is always a temptation in the special-needs community. When things are hard and our kids are struggling, it seems easier to shut everyone out. We believe it will spare us from added pain, but that is a lie. Isolation only leads to more pain. I need my friends and family to speak life into my empty soul. I need to be around people who will encourage me and lift me up. I need to be reminded that I am not in this alone, and so do you.
So today, just show up. Show up to your life even if it is painful, even if you don’t feel like it or want to. Show up and know that you are seen and you are loved.