Never Again

Every now and again I awake feeling anxious and disoriented. It takes a moment before reality sinks in and I find it hard to believe this really happened. Evidently I was mistaken to assume that the odds of experiencing the oxygen sucking sadness of losing a second child was essentially zero — but here I am, again.

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I’m not so naive as to think that I’m somehow immune to grief because of having gone through it before, or because of helping others going through it now, but I did forget just how bad it can feel. Seems that grief will again have its way with me regardless of my past experience.

The first anniversary of Cherie’s death is rapidly approaching and I’m having a hard time grasping the reality that this inspirational spark of my life is gone forever. Her absence is proving to be more impenetrable than I could have ever imagined. While doing my best to keep occupied, it’s in those moments of inactivity when my thoughts veer and I slip into the dank hollowness of never agains.

“Never again” is one of those bilateral phrases that communicates two very different perspectives. One comes from a place of control, e.g., “Never again will I settle for less than I deserve.” The other comes from a place of despair, e.g., “Never again will we be together.”

I’ve been really feeling her absence of late. The life of the party has left the house and it’s hard to accept that we will never again share a laugh together, or will I be entertained by her wild obsessions. There will never be another evening of sitting through her Wine Night ideas and listening to her describe every last ingredient of every possible menu item. Dear God, what I wouldn’t give for one more dramatic telling of “A Day in the Life of Cherie.”

There will be no more culinary adventures sampling spicy foods, craft beers, or insanely rich desserts. No more phone calls on her way to work, and then again on her way home. She’ll never again burst through our door, excited to share the deep biblical perspective she discovered that morning. I’m going to miss listening to her profound yet effortless prayers, witnessing her tender heart, and encountering her audacious zeal for those who had fallen victim to life’s cruelties.

Never again sounds so irreversible, feels so sealed off. I’m suffocating down here blanketed under the heavy weight of her loss. Cherie is just too deeply woven into the fabric of who I am for this to be anything other than an arduous journey. Tell me God, how long before my family finds the other side of this? How did we manage to do it when Jacob died? I really don’t recall.

Experience tells me that life will continue and my spirit will eventually be restored. Even so, that will entail a great deal of effort on my part and I’m just not feeling it at the moment. I have wore myself out stubbornly insisting on being the counterbalance to my family’s grief. They didn’t asked me to take on that role, that’s just who I am and it’s really hard to change that part of me.

Yet, my inner attitude doesn’t necessarily reflect my outer plight. I’m encouraged by the fact that my life contains much to celebrate, and I refuse to ignore my greatest joy. A joy not based on my external circumstances, but instead in the confidence that comes from the clear evidence of the relationship both Jacob and Cherie had with Jesus Christ. The assurance of their eternal salvation forms in me a compatible coexistence of joy and sadness.

Still, it’s clear that there will be difficult days ahead. I just can’t stick my head in the sand and wait this out, I have to process it all.

While dealing with the aftermath of Jake’s death, I discovered journaling. Writing has become my exercise in healing. Doing so moves me into deep thought and empowers me to candidly articulate my emotions. Best of all, in those rare moments when I’m actually able to open up and find no one at hand to hear me out, my journal always listens.

I’m aching to reach the other side of this first anniversary. In doing so all the first milestones will have come to fruition; yet the second year may just be the hardest. The second Christmas, the second birthday, the second anything is when I will have to accept the fact that she is never, ever coming back to this life.

While these “never agains” may continue to have their way with me for a season, I’m confident they won’t last forever. As for now, I am more acutely aware of the value of one very pivotal never again:

Never again will I assume the people I care most about will always be here with me in this life.

I’m taking advantage of every single moment I can…maybe we all should.

Photo by Allec Gomes on Unsplash