If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that Tuesdays are a special day around these here parts. We highlight the stories behind the stories of various authors, but every once in a while we showcase someone you might not know. Well, I can’t wait to introduce you to someone who’ll someday have a book: Katie Huey is a lovely woman whose words are sure to touch your heart, especially if you’ve ever lost someone you loved. Enjoy!
A word set aside for addicts, for the sick, for the physically ailed. Surely not for me. I’m not going to need that.
Until, suddenly, unexpected loss swipes at your face with a muddy claw snarling, “Silly girl, you thought you were better than.”
Streaks of blood and dirt left behind on my cheeks, mingling with tears. I slumped against the brick, legs out in front of me, staring at any wall in the rooms the various people put me in. Always directing me with a gentle grasp on my elbow, like one would a toddler. That’s how they treat you when people you love die.
My dad died unexpectedly eighteen months ago. I know now just how much power a buzzing phone has in changing your life. The words, “Daddy died” mumbled through air waves, trying to make their nasty truth stick in my brain.
A slurry of pain remained in my open palms. The foundations of my previous life sifted through my fingers, dripping thick globs of mess onto the pavement. Only the gravely bits and sharp pieces remain. Nothing to wrap my tense hands around.
For months, the truth was unfathomable. Unbearable. I’d repeat the phrase again and again, “Daddy died” but the weight of the loss was too heavy to carry. My family and I spent three months doubled over, trying to transport the new boulders of grief everywhere we went. In the next trimester I began to stand upright again, but my shoulders stayed slumped. Like raising from a yoga bend, you roll up one vertebrae at a time, careful to make sure the blood doesn’t rush to your head. Tears and memories mingled in wisps. A complete thought hard to solidify.
Days passed, then months. Alarm clocks went off. I pressed snooze. I woke and I worked and ate what people put in front of me. Dozens of prepared meals from Trader Joes. People had birthdays and some even had babies, and I would still ask, “Why, oh why, don’t I feel better yet?” We spread ashes in valleys and planted trees and began to weave together threads of ourselves that were ripped apart.
Grief is a marathon. Not a sprint. Recovery is very much the same.
The possibility of healing was always a given, yet the timeline unclear. Walk and the way will appear. Hold strong in my belief that, “Hope floats on whispers.” God shows up in quiet ways. Eat, rest, cry, write, repeat. For months.
It has only been in the past few weeks that I have recognized a new lightness appear in my heart. Where the holes were once gaping, they are now filling with beams of light. Memories of dance parties in the kitchen, breakfast at greasy spoon diners, and Christmas morning pajamas feel like balm now rather than abrasive sponges scraping off flecks of my heart.
Recovery looks like road trip vacations, smiling at weddings, at sinking my feet into the sand at a beach.
In smiling at wedding photos, wearing his clothes, mixing his favorite things into my bookshelf for display.
In the occasional breakdown, or the jealous lump in your throat when someone else says, “I’ve got to go call my dad.” You swallow that lump down, big gulps, wishing you could make that phone call too.
Recovery looks like mountain hikes and finding waterfalls and cries out to God for direction, for purpose or for help. It looks like writing, typing, pens and ink. Lists of gratitude scrawled on crumpled notebook paper and finalized on your body in a tattoo.
It looks like walking yourself, with a head held high, to the meadow, to sit and watch the grass move with the wind. Slowly fingering those scars on your face and your heart, whispering to yourself it is going to be ok. Understanding that who you are has forever been changed, but you are still you and good will seep back in again.
That hope floats on whispers and beautiful things will lead the way to healing.
I know. Aren’t Katie’s words just gorgeous? Hard but good. Brutiful, as Glennon Doyle would say. Here’s a little bit about our friend: she’s a vanilla latte loving twenty something who enjoys searching for ordinary and beautiful things. Her work has been featured in Invoke Magazine, and she blogs regularly at www.52beautifulthings.com. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive. So, cheer her on. Leave her an encouraging comment about how her words touched you. Connect with her on her blog, Instagram or Twitter. Show her some love!0