Lonely adj: affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome or standing apart; isolated.
The day after the second anniversary of my son’s death was a horrible day. As with each anniversary date, it has often been the lead-up that is hard. The knowing, as we do now, that the terrible, crushing emotions of that day will surface again and we’ll have to remember them. Interestingly, there were moments that were hard that day. But the day after was somehow worse. I woke up and got ready and chased my daughter around. She is newly walking and that morning was full of giggles and mischief. It made me smile and laugh with her. I dropped her off and got to work. The scramble of morning was done. And it hit me. A deep seated, soul filling sense of loneliness. A longing for things that are out of reach. For the familiar. For friends who are dear but no longer close at hand and a house that is no longer mine. For a drive through rolling hills and a stop at my favorite coffee shop that came with a smile and kind words. For the banter of a workplace that had become comfortable and easy. For a circle of women who had held me up during the worst of those moments of loss, living in another home further away. In all of this I have learned that when these waves hit I need to just ride them out…letting myself feel whatever it is that I am feeling and seeing where it takes me. So, I did that. I sat in my new office with my new job in my new city with my new people and I felt the force of change. Pushing, heavy, hard. I let the sense of being overwhelmed fill me up and spill over into my coffee cup and wash through my body. And I realized that, in fact, it was perhaps not so much the longing for those many familiarities listed as it was a muscle memory of the feelings that filled me that other day after. When given space, these feelings of being so alone that I was LONESOME were actually coming from a place of recalled loss. The lonely in the marrow of my bones lonesomeness that went with going home without my son and waking up to face that reality.
I am grateful that I am able to recognize those feelings for what they are. Not really a loss of identity and self understanding as they felt early that day. Yes, I am having to reinvent myself here in this new place with these new people. But that I can do. I’ve done it before a time or two. The discomfort of change can sometimes mask the discomfort of loss right now. And it’s easier to let it. But really, this new place with these new people is a good one. I do miss the familiar. I like the warm, wrapped up feeling of it. But this loneliness that came crashing through was one that would happen even if I was surrounded by that warmth. The loneliness of a mama missing her son. So I hugged that lonely to me close and remembered that it was there because I loved him just as much as I miss him. Sometimes the longing of loneliness is in fact a filling up of the soul. It just takes time to understand it that way.