For the Love of Cinnamon and Sugar Toast
It never ceases to amaze me what crushes me with the pain of grief. Some days it is something big, a memory that an important date is coming up, the recognition that just two years ago on this day we were living a beautiful life unbeknownst to us that the worst day of our lives was quickly approaching.
Today it was the thought of cinnamon and sugar toast. The New York Times posted a cinnamon and sugar toast recipe today that made me giggle, but quickly brought me to my knees with the most earth shaking grief that I have felt in a few weeks. You see, thinking about cinnamon and sugar toast reminded me of our old home where a glass jar of cinnamon and sugar was always on the counter. I had thought at the time that all of the kids loved eating cinnamon and sugar toast, but seeing as there is no need for this after our fire, I now know that it was mostly my littlest love who was snacking on cinnamon and sugar toast in the mornings.
Adeline loved eating cinnamon and sugar toast and reading this recipe reminded me of the times that I felt frustrated when there would be dried cinnamon and sugar all over the kitchen. I remember telling the kids that I wasn't going to make the jar of cinnamon sugar and then always doing it anyway because they seemed to enjoy it so much. I would take a glass cookie jar and put an entire bag of sugar and an entire jar of cinnamon in there. I would then stir until it was the same consistency in color all the way through. This would take some time but it was an easy way to make it accessible for the kids so that they could make their own toast.
I remember so often the pain in the butt that the sugar and cinnamon spilled all over the counter was, but now I would happily go back to that...to those messes and that scraping and scrubbing. I miss my old life so much. I don't know what I expected when I started the grief journey. I don't think that my mind could fully even begin to comprehend how awful it would be to lose a child. I am so sad all of the time, but I do have happy times too. It's just like this weird and awful mixture of happiness and joy with a tinge of sorrow. I wish that there was anything that I could do to make the world right again.
Some days I feel so distant from my girl. I feel like I have been forced to live a lifetime without her. I feel like maybe those perfect years with her are just my imagination. I know that they are not, but they feel so distant. I feel so far from where I was then that it doesn't even feel like I am the same person. I don't know what I can do to ever feel like "me" again. In fact, I don't think that there is anything that I can do. I don't think that the "me" that was can ever exist again.
Other days, I feel so close to her. I am able to feel her on the breeze, hear her voice in the music in the car, or feel as though she is snuggled up next to me while I sleep. Those days are the ones that I cling to. Those days I am able to have more joy. It's like I can feel somewhat normal, even though the normal that I was doesn't belong to me any longer.
Today, Shane and I got to go for a beautiful hike. The hike was just over 2 miles but a little steep in places and there were some moments when I was surprised at myself that I would keep going. I have been struggling with lower back pain from a pulled muscle, but I knew that being in the woods would give me the therapy that I needed, so I pushed myself to do the work and get where I needed to be. It was an amazing hike. I got to see the beautiful landscape and earth around us. I was hiking just outside of West Peoria, IL and it reminded me of how amazing and beautiful the landscape of Illinois must have been before it was settled.
I thought about those days, the days in which Illinois would have been a mass of forest. It would have been a sight to see I am sure. Modernization is wonderful in so many ways. I love being in a more densely populated area. I am not a small town girl, but I also love being in the middle of the woods. My entire life I have tried to force myself to be a beach girl, but every time that I am in the woods, I am reminded that I am indeed a forest girl.
I feel blessed that there are so many great places to hike and walk on trails in the woods where I live now. There is one small set of trails just a few minutes from my house and in between the house and where Huxley plays football. The dog and I will be walking those trails more often as I know that being in the woods soothes my soul. I feel closer to Heaven when I am in the woods and hiking and I can think back to all of the hiking and walks on trails that I did with Adeline. I feel at peace and my soul feels at home when we are walking amongst the trees.
I have to keep reminding myself of the blessings that are before me. I have my amazing husband who loves me very much, two amazing children at home, my amazing parents just a few doors down, and one amazing child at college. I have an entire host of amazing friends and family who continue to show up for me and continue to make me feel loved even in the darkest hours of my days. I am so thankful for the days that I am here, even though my soul longs for heyday when I can be with my littlest love again.