SO, i'm trying not to overburden you all with my grieving process, but a few interesting things have come up for me this week, reminding me that death casts a longer shadow than I would like.
1. For a while when I first got back to Egypt I was having dreams about things that were really frightening--me staring down the barrel of a gun, the muslim brotherhood burying our christian guards alive outside our gate, riots, etc. I woke up a lot during the night and slep really badly for about a week. One night I woke up at about 2 with the startling realization that "of course I'm having scary dreams...the person in whom i found my security, my courage, is gone." after I cried about that for a while, no more scary dreams. and also i'm beginning to learn to locate my security/courage somewhere else...and figured out why Psalm 46 is so commonly used with grieving people. "God is our refuge and strength."
2. Lately I've been having dreams about my mom being alive. Sometimes I know in my dream that it isn't real, and I cry in my dream and in real life. Sometimes it's more like a memory, or a hope that I had for being with her. This makes me both happy and sad.
3. Many days I only tear up a little, or have a little morning cry. But today I had a full-fledged bad day, with multiple crying fits that I couldn't identify triggers for, or figure out how to stop.
4. I have decided that somehow it's actually easier to be here, away from the house. It's easy to go on as though everything is normal, because I didn't talk to my mom every day while I've been here in Egypt (the way I used to when I lived somewhere else in the US). But when I do want to talk to her, it's that much worse with the realization that I can't.
5. It's strange what makes me sad and what doesn't....watching Oprah yesterday on our newly-repaired satellite tv (with the decorator who re-did a living room for a woman whose husband died of cancer, and he'd spent most of his time on the couch during his illness) (it was the only thing on in English) did not make me even flinch. But today I was just happily reading along in The King's Touch (a novel set in 17th century England, about the intrigues of court life and the issue (ha) of a king and a bastard (?) son and who will be next in line for the crown), and BAM i was crying. Jason walked in at just the wrong moment--for him. For me it was just the right moment. Too bad I have no idea what started it.
6. I have been trying not to inflict my grieving process on the other YAVs--if I'm crying or feeling fragile, I generally stay away from them or away from group things. I have yet to seek anyone out to say "I really miss my mom" and just cry with them--something I could probably do every day if it wouldn't creep them out. In fact, they are all acting refreshingly normal. But it's interesting because that normality is what I wanted all the time my mom was sick, but now that she's gone some part of me wants nothing to ever be normal again, just to recognize the fact that it's just not right, that there's a lot of pain. But at the same time I crave normalcy and going about everyday business. It's a strange paradox to be living in. (As though any paradox of life or faith were comfortable...)
7. Advent is a hard time to be grieving, because it's "supposed" to be all about waiting and expectancy and hope. But this year, it's not entirely clear to me what I'm waiting for--besides Jesus, I mean. It's simultaneously difficult and necessary to be hopeful.
8. When I first heard about my mother's death, there was a butterfly at the door. My devotional book, Incandescence, has butterflies sprinkled throughout the pages. Yesterday I taught a class how to make butterflies by linking their thumbs and fluttering their hands. I know that butterflies are a common symbol used at Easter time--I use them myself--as symbols of resurrection and new life and rebirth and all those things. And I love that. But I'm not sure what that means for me yet. My grandmother insists, for example, that her mother (who loved cardinals) visits her in the form of a cardinal every now and then, including on her (my great grandmother's) birthday this year while we were in Hilton Head. Actually, the only time we saw a cardinal in HH was on my great grandmother's birthday, and it was right on our back deck--with us and apparently unafraid--for several minutes. My mother never once mentioned anything about butterflies--aside from being a good camp counselor and nature lover and teaching me not to touch them--and yet here they are everywhere. Perhaps it's a reminder to me to be hopeful...a "witness to the resurrection."
9. I feel like I have to fill out ten things on this list. Silly duty-bound me. Just to spite the perfectionist in me, I'm not going to. It's ending at 8. So there. :-) I have to take my smiles where I can get them...or at least, the ones I mean rather than the ones that are a mask.