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It took me 10 years to pack her room. Seasons cycled and my home’s rhythms and routines took the shape of a place where a boy was growing into a man. My daughter’s room, though, was immune to the growing pangs. Pink washed walls, tightly tucked in bed sheets, and fluffed pillows froze in time when I ran to the Sandy Hook firehouse.
After she died, I would sit at her desk, sorting through the trinkets she assured me were treasures. I’d flip through tiny notebooks adorned with hearts, stars, rainbows, and the animal du jour. It was if I was searching for something to thaw my numb body. I thought perhaps I would find a clue that would catapult me into living.
I’d be gently prompted, “What about Catherine’s room?” After years, I would be prodded, “Wasn’t it time?” My heart would constrict with such force I could not breathe. Her room was all I had left to call my own. Rattled and breathless, I would balk at the notion and tighten my grasp on what I claimed.
I heard it once said seasons intentionally prepare for what comes next. I believe it is the divinity and interdependence of creation. Seasons have their appointed time. Tender blooms intended to produce fruit will scorch if summer sun bears down too early. Likewise, leafed trees will collect the weight of a premature winter storm and cause its branches to snap.
Perhaps the constricting of my heart was the nudging of our Lord, informing me my season of grieving had not finished. Or perhaps it was a nudging of another sort. You see, I think when we pay attention to our heart, when we carefully consider its state, we undertsand our Savior’s promptings.
Last year I read the simple question over and over. “To what am I clinging, to what am I holding so tightly, my fingers digging into my palms that I cannot accept anything else?” Pink washed walls, the bed that I sometimes climbed into, and her treasures, safely hidden from the world and firmly clenched in my fists, came to mind. Its gentle prompting caused my heart to still.
You see, seasons must transition in their appointed time. When they do, tender blossoms emerge from stretching branches and transform into fruit ripened by summer sun. So too does a season of grieving make way for a season of joy. I knew in the stillness, insisting on clinging to Catherine’s earthly treasures, my hands would not be free to accept the gifts of the awaiting season.
I gently tucked that which was precious into a box — perhaps my boy now man may one day want — and I shared that which remained with those who may need. And when it was finished, I sat knowing in the appointed season, hands open to the heavens, will receive.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.