By Kristan Rojas

Before losing ½ of my heart in 2005, when my Joshua passed away, I was probably like most of the world. I was only briefly acquainted with grief… probably even uncomfortable with it. At that time, my losses included grandparents, aunts, and uncles – you know older generations that moved on because it was their time. I too believed that grief was something to experience for a while before carrying on.

Well, it is safe to say that grief and I are now on a first name basis. In fact, my grief knows me better than anyone else and I now know every single aspect of grief. We are constant companions and our relationship has evolved over time.

Initially, we were bitter enemies. I hated my grief because it left me open and battered. I felt like I was knocked down and beaten by it. It took away my peace and smothered me with anger, resentment and devastation. This went on for what seemed like forever...

Then, over time, the reprieves began. It felt like every so often, grief allowed me to take a deep breath. It lessened its weight on my chest long enough for me to have brief glimpses of beauty outside of our battle. I witnessed the sweetness of my daughter’s smile; the strength of my husband’s hand; and the breeze upon my face when I whispered Josh’s name. Though the battle would always commence again, I now had hope that another reprieve would eventually come. I clung to those reprieves. I lived for those reprieves.

Eventually, I was able to catch my breath more often and I felt ready to slowly begin to stand on my feet. However, I was disheartened to still feel the weight of my grief clinging to my back - attempting to pull me back down. I realized then that I had a choice to make. I could let my grief continue to pull me back to the floor for another battle or I could continue to rise up carrying my grief along with me. It was like my grief and I finally realized that we were stuck with each other for life and we needed to find ways to peacefully coexist.

This was an empowering realization because if I stopped fighting with my grief, it could no longer consume me. Yes, it would hurt me, exhaust me, anger me and often devastate me, but I would not allow it to consume me. I had things to do. I had beauty to embrace in this life and my son’s legacy to ensure.

Now, over 12 years later, my grief is still with me. Sometimes it walks beside me like my shadow. I know that it is there, but I am able to walk in the sunshine again.  Other times, my grief is draped around me like a cloak. Its familiar weight somehow brings weary peace to me.

I have now held my grief longer than I held my son and I cannot imagine being without either of them. My grief allows me to still actively be Josh’s mommy every day. I alone have the honor of wearing his cloak.

My joys are quiet and subdued, but they exist. My heart, though weary, is much more kind now. My strength is quiet, yet strong. My journey appears endless, yet I know Joshua awaits me… in time. Until then, I continue on with my constant companion… my grief. It accepts me for who I am and keeps me warm and humble on this journey back to my Josh.

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