Candles and Facebook Messages: What Might Have Been and It's Not the End of the World

In Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist there is a chapter called 'What Might Have Been'. Today was one of those days for me and for many people back home.

'If you've been marked by what might have been, you don't forget. You know the day, the years. You know when the baby would have been born. you know exactly what anniversary you'd be celebrating, if the wedding had happened. You know exactly how old she'd be right now, if she were still alive. You'll never forget the last time you saw your child, or the last time cancer was a word about someone else's life, or the day that changed absolutely everything, it makes the calendar feel like a minefield, like you're constantly tiptoeing over explosions of grief until one day you hit one, shattered by what might have been.'

6 months is a long time to go without talking to, seeing or hugging someone. It's time enough for physical, tangible memories to be replaced by fuzzy montages and the happy but distant laughter of the good times you shared. It's time enough for true acceptance yet it's still raw enough for disbelief.

When clouds start to gather across what we hoped would be our bright and carefree futures, we fear the worst. Then the worst comes, the news which we thought would break us and stop our worlds for good. One thing I am starting to realise is that 'it's not the end of the world'. It sounds so blase and frank and in some ways it is, the sheer fact that the world goes on without the person we loved or despite our difficult circumstances is like a massive slap in the face. But it's true. Human beings can be remarkably resilient, when our hearts and minds are convinced that life is not worth living on account of 'the worst' occurring in our lives something deeper inside of us pushes us forward. It often takes over our grief, blocks out the sadness and helps us get on with our everyday lives.

Today was just another day for me. Another slog of hard work in the library, another breakfast, another Flat White from Starbucks, another trip to Sainsburys. But it was also much more than that. I promised myself a moment to grieve, a moment to remember. At 4 I stopped working and walked down to College Green, coffee in hand, to sit in the cathedral for a while. I sat in the stillness and just rested and remembered. Memories came flooding back, as did the pain and the deep sadness that lines my heart, but at the same time I felt the wonder at a God who would care for tiny, insignificant me sitting on a pew crying for her loss - it is possible to feel sadness, anger, joy and hope at the same time! I then lit a candle and prayed for her parents and the rest of her friends, then I thanked God for her life.

There is still a hole in my life. I've lost an emotional crutch. Yet I carry her with me always, for she has contributed so much to the person I am today. I miss so many things about her, strangely enough today I even miss the way she used to set out her Facebook wallposts and her texts. I miss that sense of fun that practically bubbled out of her face and the reassurance that no matter what there would always be someone to listen to you. I want to tell her everything. I want her advice on so many things.

Acceptance is a strange word, it assumes an end, a completion. My grief is not complete by any means, I'm not even sure if it's ever supposed to be, but it has certainly reached a new stage. I am no longer angry or bitter about what might have been in store for Annie. She is in a much better place now, happier than ever and safe in His arms. There is no injustice where she is concerned, it is us, those who have been left behind, that carry the hurt and the pain of the 'What Might Have Been'. However I have been inspired by two of my friends, Philippa and Alice who posted the following:

'6 months further from, 6 months closer to'

'See you soon'

This is the attitude I'm going to attempt to embrace from now on. I will see her again, not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon. There is no use dwelling in 'What Might Have Been'.

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