It's eleven o'clock. I don't want to go to sleep. Or even try. I put my head on the pillow and the thoughts come rushing in. Thirty five days ago someone else's little boy died. Thirty five days ago my husband and I wept on our knees in the hallway of our home and tried to explain why to our four year old boy.
I immediately made lasagna and M & M cookies and a CD of my favorite songs to cry to. I drove it over to their house the next morning. We went to the visitation, then the funeral. I made more food and delivered it with a note. And then more food and more cookies. More notes. More cookies.
Every night since the death, I can't seem to sleep. The first two weeks I spent late night hours in my dark living room drinking sleepy time tea, watching a rabbit at the bird feeder outside the window.
Images of the funeral and details of the tragedy keep my mind racing. Complete sorrow for the family, complete.
I know this is grief, I've felt this before. I've stayed awake too many nights to count. But it's not my child, right?
I've been invited to remember how it used to be. I remember the gut wrenching pain. Pain that has been dulled by five years of life experiences and a hell of a lot of acceptance. I know my grief is different, it's ongoing. It looks at me in the face every morning, it smiles when I say "Good Morning!". It makes my back spasm at the most inconvenient times, it reminds me how different my life is from yours. My grief changed me into a better person in the most painful way imaginable. My grief continues.
Their grief is the aftermath of a horrendous car accident. My grief is watching the car accident happen in slow motion.
So I lay awake at night thinking of the family and what they will have to endure in the coming months and years. They have to learn to live again, without him. How? Why? What for?
I cry for them because it is a place only they can navigate. Grief is personal, private and painful.
All we can do as friends is show up. Answer the call. Meet them for breakfast. Send them an email. Bring them food. Make them cookies. Pray with them and for them.
It's ok to lay awake and not be able to sleep. It's grief.