Walking

Times in life come and go. That is what a good, long walk reminded me of. Just as I was putting one foot before the other and continued to walk until I was home again, so it often is in life as well: one season goes into the other. Or, as an older mom said to me when I was home with four small, very vivid children and felt completely overwhelmed: ‘this too shall pass’.

I just walked my walk. Almost daily I take this round through nature in my area. Often a walk of half an hour over the road pass the water, but when I have more time and energy, I take a longer route, over sand paths.

That’s what I did today. The sun made most mud dry and today I have space to think about what happened in the past weeks. I decide to take time for this, to walk and clear my head. Again my tired feet teach me that this day of crying will pass too. Just as my legs are making miles over muddy places, not so straight paths, sudden wind or unexpected warmth, so also my life goes on. Breath in, breath out. From one situation into the other and everything comes to an end. Just as my walk ends.

In the bible life is often compared to a path you walk. When we found out that our daughter had died and I had to give birth, someone said, based on Psalm 23: ‘You have to walk through the valley, not sit in it, or run through it. You just have to walk through it.’

It gave us some handhold. In the valley full of shadow of not our own death, but hers. That it was a valley, was clear and that it would end somewhere, seemed very obvious to us in the beginning, but after some months it wasn’t that obvious anymore, it felt as if it would never come to an end. 

But just as every walk ends, there also will come an end to seasons and times in our lives. In the many mourning books and articles I read, there was one line that hit me hard: ‘our life is a series of losses’. How true is that. Loss is something each of us needs to learn to live with and this walk reminded me of that. March 22 it was two years ago Amanda was born. On March 20 we found out she had died and on March 27 we buried her. These dates this year felt in between all kinds of daily stuff and also special occasions, like a bachelor party, making promotions for my book, my Love who was away from home for some days. Actually, I did not have much time to really stand still remembering her, even though we took days off on her death- and on her birthday.

We did – yeah – made a long walk on her day of death. Two days later on her birthday we went to the graveyard. First in the morning with only the two of us, to think again about how the gravestone should look like and to make her grave neat. Then in the afternoon we went with the children. We lit a candle with a ‘2’ and sparkler sticks, my Love did a little speech. We cried, hugged and dealt with different reactions from different children who experience this each in their own boys’ or girl’s way in their own stage of development. It was exhausting and beautiful.

Then we went out for dinner. Just as we did last year. Hooray. We go out for dinner, because our daughter turned two years old. I mean: our daughter was supposed to turn two years old. Oh no, if she had been born on time, she would not yet have been two years old. I should say: our daughter was born still two years ago and despite our sadness we are glad that she is part of our family and that is why we honor her existence today by kind of celebrating her short life.

It was hard and strange again this year to celebrate the day of birth of someone who is not here anymore, and we did not get a chance to know really. But it was different from last year after all. Mourning was again raw, but not as raw as it was last year. Although it still can come raw over me sometimes, the times in between those moments become longer.

Maybe I am not yet really out of the valley, I am walking through that valley and learn how to walk out my sadness figuratively speaking. Although it probably will never disappear totally, it gets more woven into who I am and there are periods, times, moments. Just as my physical walk takes me along mud and mess and difficulties, but also pass beautiful views, quiet breezes, moments of awareness that I don’t have to do this alone and that it will come to an end. I think I will take a walk again tomorrow.

This blogpost was first published in Dutch on April 1, 2019

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