Last-minute Trip to Texas

August 31, 2007

This has been a really difficult year. August, in particular, has been a very difficult month.

I had listed out this whole ranking of the best to worst months of 2007… but, with the exception of January, every month was just a detailing of why my mom’s death made it horrible. I decided to get rid of that and just leave it at “It has been a difficult year.”

I met once with a grief counselor, and she advised that I go home for a month in August. However, teaching for the Daniel Academy made that impossible, so I canceled my plans to make the trip. BUT… An hour and a half of crying in a ball on the sound booth floor (when I was supposed to be running screens) was enough to change my mind.

It didn’t actually make any sense. My mom is as much not here as she was not there. I didn’t need to be in Texas to experience her absence. And I didn’t exactly have a clear idea of what I wanted to do with that time. But I went.

It felt like I had so little time there. I left Monday afternoon and had to be back in time for class on Thursday morning. (Yes… I basically took advantage of every spare moment between TDA classes.) In those few days, 18 hours of that was driving time… and then another 16 or so was given to sleep and basic hygiene stuff (you know, showers). Leaving about 30 hours of consciousness to spend time with my dad and do whatever else I thought I was there to do.

Even so, I am glad that I went. Because he had to work, I couldn’t spend a lot of time with my dad. But getting to see him for the time that I did was worth it. And I was able to spend a little bit of time with a couple of good friends. Also worth the trip.

When it comes to the reality of my mom’s death… I spent most of my time avoiding the thing that I most wanted to do…

For my mom’s 40th birthday, my dad arranged something he called “The Deborah Project”. He wrote letters, sent emails, and talked to people directly, asking them to write a little something about who my mom was to them. He then collected all of this and gave it to her for her birthday, along with an assignment. She was supposed to take all of those things and make a scrapbook out of them. (She was amazing with that stuff.)

The whole project was brilliant. It gave her an opportunity to do something she enjoyed, while forcing her to sit and stare at all of the wonderful things people had said about her.

I wanted so badly to spend a little bit of time with that book. Just to read through the pages and remember my mother. But I was so terrified. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I didn’t… until 20 minutes before we needed to get on the road again.

I cried a lot. And mostly just managed to skim the pages of about a third of the book. It was so hard. And so I quit, pulled myself together, and took the rest of my things out to the car.

I was somewhat disappointed in myself. And, as we headed out of town, I found myself wondering if I had really done any of what I had gone there to do. I didn’t verbalize any of this, but it was definitely what was on my mind. And then the friend who was with me (I’ll blog about that later) said something about how it never feels, on trips like that, like you’ve done everything that you went there to do. But that it was still worthwhile.

So, I decided, in that moment, that the trip was worthwhile. Whatever it did or didn’t accomplish. And it was. I have many reasons to be glad that I went. And the time was certainly better spent than it would have been if I had stayed in KC.

I just wish this whole grieving thing were just a little bit easier.



  1. Well, as far as I’m concerned, it was worth it and I’m glad you came. 🙂 I definitely understand what you mean though, and, really, yeah, I don’t think there’s a way to, like, do it right. That would kind of be a method and a formula and, one of the things that I take from my time with BroDon and Christa is that this, like any deep work of grace (and it has to be a deep work of grace because it’s so beyond my ability to manage or make any sense of) is about just allowing yourself to be present and letting God do His thing. I think that you did and have done a good job of that, for what it’s worth. I’m kind of in awe about it actually.

    Anyway, it was wonderful to see you and–I won’t preempt your blog–your amazing friend as well. You have some incredible friends–come to think of it, we both do.

  2. I am also very glad that you came. Your visit couldn’t have come at a better time. You have no idea what just your brief presence did for my heart.

  3. i’m happy that you got to go, and happy still more that you decided it was worthwhile after all was said and done. and i’m absolutely amazed that you made it as far you did with your mom’s project-things; you really are something else, christine–a very stunning and surprising and strong something else. it’s cool to know you.

    and you have a good friend in that road-trippin’ partner of yours. i’m actually saying that with zero grief-giving or unnecessary looks, etc. a good friend, indeed. hold on to that one. it’s a gift of the Lord to you…

  4. You know, as I read your posts about what you are going through, I see only one thing I would say you’re not “doing right”. That is, you keep beating yourself up, thinking that somehow you’re supposed to be “better” than you are. Relax, and just let yourself “be”. There is no schedule for any of this, no timetable, and no rules.

    So, my advice, for what it’s worth, is stop being so hard on yourself. There is nothing you need to be disappointed in yourself for. You’re facing your emotions, and right now that’s your job in all this. You’re a very impressive young woman. For years I have told Amanda when I grow up I want to be like her. Now when I grow up I want to be like you, too. 😉

  5. When my sister died I too beat myself up a lot about what I was and wasn’t doing right. Sometimes I would be faced with this super-intense moment with my family members that I expected to be so painful, but it wasn’t and I got mad at myself for not feeling anything. Other times I would have to face something and it hurt so much I avoided it and I got mad at myself for that too.

    Then one time I went into a noodle shop in Hong Kong in the SoHo district and as I bit into the noodles I started weeping openly in this restaurant for quite a while. I know why I did it but it was over the silliest thing – the fact that my sister used to make that very noodle dish for me. I never would have thought that would hurt me like it did but it hurt like hell.

    I had to learn that there is no way to do it but the way I can do it. I have to take it as it comes.

    I think you’re definitely doing that. You’re doing an amazing job and I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of your dad. You guys are amazing and you’re an inspiration.

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