When we lost Grant, I longed for the day that I would feel normal again, like myself. The pain was so consuming, I didn’t even know who I was. It felt like I was using someone else’s body. I didn’t think the same, feel the same, respond the same, the way I used to. Nothing felt the same, normal, and I ached for things to go back to the way they were!
I used to wonder, “Maybe after the first year, maybe then I will feel like the old Alisa, more like myself.” But I am learning, that Alisa, the one I longed for, died with Grant. I will never be her again. There is now a different person in her place, I am forever changed.
Because of the love Glenn and I had for each other, we conceived a child together. I birthed him from my body. He was a part of me. A part of me is no longer here. How can I be the same? For us as a couple, as a family, there were 6 of us; now there are 5. Our child was tragically killed. The trauma of that event, and now being forced to live the rest of our lives without him here, how could we ever be the same? Trauma changes you. I can’t ever go back to who I was. Others get over it, they move on. We won’t. We can’t. It’s impossible.
When I realized that I would never be the same, that losing Grant would mark me in a way that I would always walk with a limp, I was terrified. It’s a scary thing reinventing yourself at age 53. Especially when you don’t know who you are becoming, who you will be, what the new you will be like???
The new Alisa is forced to make a place for the ache behind the smile. Always there, ever present, where it now resides. The new me, with that ever present ache, ache that never leaves. I must learn to live with and around it. It marks me, as a scar would, and has become a part of the new me. It is a part of my story. The new me is learning to live with it and around it. Even though I don’t want to, and I still fight it with all of my might at times, trying to resist.
But there is good news. The new me relishes every moment, every twinkle of the eye, every soft smile. The little things are so obvious now, and I don’t miss them as I used to. Even the tiniest, seemingly insignificant things, become important. The new me, loves more deeply, because I appreciate every look, every touch, every phone call, every conversation in a way the old Alisa never could.
The new Alisa is more vulnerable. Somehow hurting so deeply, opens one up and makes us vulnerable. That use to scare me right after losing Grant, because I never wanted to hurt like this again. But I think it’s the vulnerability that makes it possible to love more deeply, more profoundly. The new me, and the vulnerability I now live with, helps me to see with more clarity, enabling me to focus on things that truly matter, and turn a blind eye to the things that detract and deceive.
And the new me has a stronger faith. I no longer look at God as some cosmic Genie orchestrating things to please me, make me happy, as if He owes me something. No, the New Alisa knows the essence of her faith is living with hope in the face of mystery, unanswered questions, tragedy, and unimaginable pain. The new me can live a life of faith completely full of hope, staring the mysteries of God, right in the face. I now know in a deep way, no one can have one without the other. Faith won’t survive without hope, and hope won’t survive without the realization that there are mysteries that will never be answered. The new Alisa can embrace both with fresh understanding that we do not need all of the answers, we just need more of Christ, to have vibrant faith!
I didn’t ask for this. And if I could go back to the way things were, to the “old Alisa” I would do it in an instant. But I am learning to live in this new skin, and I think that is the answer to my “now what?” question. Now, and for the rest of my days, I am to learn what life looks like as the new me, the new normal…grieving with hope.