It seems ridiculous to even state it outright, but these last 11 weeks have been incredibly difficult.
The beginning of a new school year always brings upheaval as we all adjust to our new routine (and even after 12 years with school-aged kids, it IS always new, isn't it?). Marching season means a whole 'nother level of stress with all the added practices, performances and Friday night games.
But this year, we've had that PLUS a broken foot, a bad back, a hospital visit, several stretches of illness, you name it. It has all taken a toll on us.
Of course, we're managing just fine. In fact, Brett just posted a Facebook status that praised Ryan and Katie for the way they have risen above these difficulties. They're resilient, tough and determined, and we're so proud to call them ours.
But there's that undercurrent.
As I drove to San Antonio Saturday, I had plenty of old-fashioned quiet time. It was so good to have the time alone to process the events of the last few months. I tried to avoid the more maudlin thoughts (not good to melt down while driving, after all), but then, the oddest sights would pull me under.
The San Marcos River sign. Texas State. The old Oak Lodge.
Each glimpse—the place where Mom learned to swim, the college where Jim and Nancy became Jim and Nancy, my parents' honeymoon hotel—caught me off-guard.
Of course, it's always there, this grief. Sometimes it's just sadness, sometimes it's anger, and sometimes, as Thanksgiving approaches, it's flat-out dread. Every time it surfaces, I vacillate between suppressing it and letting it wash over me. But even when it's in the background, there's no denying its presence.
There's a phrase from our grief recovery class that has stuck with me since our dear friend Tim died: "Lean into the grief." It's good advice, really. Fighting the emotions doesn't promote healing and only delays acceptance.
But how do I lean in without giving in? My fear is that the undercurrent will become the undertow, pulling me under, making breathing impossible, rendering me dysfunctional. I can't afford a breakdown, and while they're remarkably indulgent, my family needs me to, you know, FUNCTION.
So I pray for peace. I thank my husband and kids for their grace. And when I think I'm failing at this whole stress-management thing, I try to cut myself some slack. But more than ever, I remind myself that the trick is not to fight the undercurrent but to just keep swimming.