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December 9, 2013

Thanks-Grieving. ~ Jess Bartet

I haven’t ventured these country roads in a very long time.

This December marks 6 years since his death, at least half of which I spent running from that fact and the other half healing, growing, and honoring his memory by choosing a better route than the one that left us all dead in some way.

As quickly as we exited the highway, these Barrow County back roads flooded my frontal lobe with a tsunami wave of memories that washed me ashore and there I was, sand in my eyes, amidst fragmented homes, looking up at the sky and I could hear his voice so clearly it was startling.

I could see his thousand freckles; feel the overflow of energy he’d exude, hopping up and down, biting a clenched fist, excited over a good deal that was about to pull through. The hole that bores in your chest when you experience monumental loss? Ya know, the one I’ve spent all these years healing shut? Now ripped open like an elevator door with a couple inside whose toddler got distracted in the hallway and didn’t make it in time to ride with them.

The portal reeled me in, revisiting every floor that is a memory of places we traveled together.

All the centimeters of all these streets. I don’t think there is one in this whole region that wasn’t en route to some grand adventure he was leading us on. The physical reaction today was absolutely shocking. I believed I was over it by now, done with the grief, but out came the tears, heavy and elusive, and for them I am thankful because they were as real as the day he died and through them I felt connected.

So anyway, I share all of this with you to say: here we are, alive on this planet, another holiday, a new memory to create.

And if you feel bitter or condescending towards the “joy” that is “supposed to be” this time of year, if it is tainted by the loss of someone you loved, know that we all have them and you love them still and there is joy still, always.

The overcasting of grief during the holidays is ok and healthy and necessary.

Just don’t let it cease the formation of new memories, new adventures, with all the loves, tangible and kissable, far away and hyperphysical. Rarely are we as unified in living as we are when we share loss of a life. Be unity! Be joy. Be sad. Be serene.

Be thankful for what is before you this holiday…or go change it for the next. Be thankful for the freedom to do so! Be thankful for this life, and for theirs; that you hugged them and they hugged you back; that they were needed and they are gone; that you are here and needed too.

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Assistant Editor: Judith Andersson / Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Czar on Flickr.}

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Jess Bartet