I mentioned to a friend today that I am having a hard time writing here. One reason is that I am super busy getting ready to start homeschooling again. The other is that I have always been very authentic on this blog in that what I write about is typically exactly what is going on in my life and in my mind at the time. My thoughts are still very occupied with the loss of my friend. Sarah died three weeks ago, but I feel like many of us are only just now feeling the reality of that settle over us. Grief isn’t neat and pretty and can’t be quantified or timed.
My stepmom, Jane, was killed in a car accident a little over four years ago. We will never know exactly what happened because she was alone in the car. In addition to the intense nature of the grief that comes with losing a parent, I faced a new fear in the months and years that followed. I found myself struck with intense anxiety over driving anywhere alone. It took me awhile to recognize why I was suffering from that fear, to connect it to Jane’s death in that car alone. Thankfully, with time, that fear ceased to trouble me.
In those first days after Sarah died, a close friend mentioned to me that I needed to “Get back on the horse,” and soon. I was in such a fog that her words completely confused me. I asked her what she meant, and she said that I needed to take my children for a walk outdoors, maybe in the woods around our house. In that moment, understanding hit me with great force.
Sharing my love for nature with my children has always been one of the most natural parts of parenting for me.
Sarah’s last act was to take her children for a nature walk, and I doubt she considered it a risky activity. I doubt she was thinking about yellow jackets, and even if she was, she didn’t know she had an allergy. There is always an element of the unknown in all that we do, we just don’t typically focus on that aspect of things.
A few years ago, a bear was spotted in our neighbor’s yard. We don’t live in an area that typically houses bears, so I am not used to thinking about meeting one. For a few weeks afterward, I was a little nervous on walks in our woods. The fear faded quickly though, as I never ran into a bear myself, and I didn’t hear of anyone on our street meeting one either.
To be honest, I’ve not spent much time outdoors these past few weeks. I’ve wandered around our property alone a few times, but haven’t really enjoyed it. I don’t blame that on fear as much as sadness.
Yesterday I gathered my family for a walk, my friend’s words, “Get back on the horse,” swimming around in my head. The truth is that I did feel afraid on that walk. The air felt oppressive and the overgrown forest and fields that are creeping into our paths felt vaguely menacing. I think it’s possible that I created that uneasiness out of an expectation. It’s hard to say. I can only move forward and hope for the best. One day, I’ll find myself peacefully observing all that lives and breathes again, rather than searching for signs of danger. Just as I continued to get in the car and drive to the grocery store on my own after Jane died, I will continue to go to the woods.