It has been awhile since I wrote anything on here, so I figured I would begin again with a really light, happy subject…Grief. This idea of grief had always been a distant thing for me. While I have lost Grandparents, I haven’t really experienced anything I would define as grief. I know a lot of people who had to grieve when they moved overseas, but that wasn’t me. While I probably had moments of culture shock, I never really had moments of grieving what I lost when we moved to Morocco.
This past year of transition has been the closest I have come to grief, and I’m going to be honest, it sucks. As we approach our one year anniversary of saying goodbye to Morocco, a good friend told me it would probably be a good idea to let myself feel it and that it would be helpful to grieve again. I really wanted to put on a smile on and say, “Oh I’m fine, I’m totally healed.”, but I think she could tell by the tears in my eyes that I wasn’t fine. That I needed to feel it all over again, I needed to be real with how much I miss it and the people that are there and the way that it has shaped me. I never really equated grief with leaving a life. I always only thought of grief as mourning over a person and the things you will miss about them. But for me, I have had to grieve the life I had, the community that I had, the relationships that meant so much to me. So really, grief is just loss. It’s a loss of what once was, and is not anymore.
I think the main reason I can’t handle grieving all over again is because I was a DISASTER a year ago. If you could have seen me in the days leading up to getting on the plane (and some of you did!), I was barely eating, barely sleeping, and I basically just cried all day, everyday. By the time we arrived on American soil, I was so sick (literally – bronchitis and a broken rib from coughing) from the mourning and the grief. I know that my grief would not be to that extent, but to even experience 10% of that again seems too much to handle.
And Grief is a funny thing. I’m usually doing pretty well…until I’m not. I was at a retreat in October for my new job, and the current staff members spent some time praying over us newbies, and I just LOST it. I could not keep it together. And who wants to be a weeping mess in front of your new co-workers?! I’m thankful that most of them had walked the same road before, so they lovingly handed me tissues and said, “you’re going to be ok.”. Or it’s just another weekend of the same old same old here in AZ, and I am a weeping mess and can barely get myself together to go to church.
While Jay and I are both “lay all our cards on the table” type of people, Grief also makes you super vulnerable, and who wants to do that with a bunch of people you just met. Not this girl. Part of the reason it is so vulnerable for me is that I’m a really ugly crier and I hate the vulnerability of crying in front of people. So this grief thing has been interesting trying to navigate while meeting people and forming a new community (“Hey, my name is Jackie. Sorry about the mascara streaks down my face, I’m in a bit of culture shock.”). In some ways, it’s been really nice to ease ourselves into life, but in other ways, it’s hard to start over in a new place where no one has any idea or any context for what has shaped you and what you have held dear for the past 5 years. And to be honest, I’m not sure many people ever will. And that is just another thing to grieve. We all want to be known, understood, valued, and I’m learning that that is just another piece of this grief puzzle.
The Good in all of this, is that I’m not alone. One of my biggest prayers a year ago was, “Jesus, you need to carry me through this, because I can barely function.” And He did. I clung like I have never clung before, and I survived. He did not lessen the pain, because He knew how desperately my heart needed to grieve it, but I survived. And I think that’s where I am again. Not necessarily to the same extent, but I need to let myself grieve like I did a year ago. I need to let myself feel it and be vulnerable and let people see me ugly cry. (I will warn you, it’s not pretty.) Because for me, grieving allows me the space to remember how much those people and places mean to me. I can’t just sweep the past 5 years away just because I’m scared of how much it hurts to miss it. For me, the tears validate the beauty of our years, even the hard ones, because of where He has brought us.
So to sum it all up, Grief sucks. It’s awful. But so needed and good and healing. But still sucks. (So if you Scottsdale people see me at the grocery store or at kids’ school pick-up and I look like I’ve been ugly crying, feel free to say, “grief, culture shock?!” and I’ll just laugh and probably keep crying 🙂 )
To finish this gut-wrentching post, I thought I would share a bit of our Morocco life with you. It has taken me almost a year to let myself go through Morocco pictures with a fear that I just wasn’t up for it. I wasn’t ready to grieve again. But Lydia needed some pictures for school, so it forced me to go back through them. It has actually been fun to relive that first year, and to see how absolutely crazy we were to take 2 babies to a foreign country and live in a walled city with no car!! (Why didn’t anyone warn us that we were absolutely insane?!?) So here is a video tour of our first house in Fez. That first year was quite a year, but we often say we will never live in a cooler house. So I hope you enjoy a little taste of the beginning of our Morocco Life.