For a couple of years after 2007 ended like it did, I would flinch about the time November started to roll around. If you've read "Hey, God? Yes, Charles.", you know that my husband died unexpectedly the Monday after Thanksgiving and my mother died four weeks later on Christmas Eve. But in those years right after 2007, I was also benefiting from wise counsel. Some I paid for, some was a gift one friend to another, but two of these people once answered the same question in essentially the same way. I had asked, "What do I do with my history? My life? My memories?" Or, as the Eagles say, my heart? Both the professional and the friend who'd been there (twice) basically told me, in separate conversations, the same thing. You can hold on to all that stuff and you should. Park it in a corner of your heart (said the girl), your head (said the boy.) Either way, bring it out any time and take a look. But that will also leave plenty of room in your heart and your head for you to make new memories in your new normal.
In the past nine years, I've thought about that a lot. While it made academic sense at the time, I've now had time to actually live this good advice. It took a while, of course, but it's been priceless. I remember all those moments of being unrealistic and desperate and absolutely certain that God could just undo those holidays of 2007. In fact, I once totally and seriously and out loud gave God that option. But instead of that, God gave me the understanding that my husband and my mother were doing just fine in Heaven and it was going to be okay for me to start getting fine again too.
Family and friends still check on me when the leaves of November start to fall. But they don't do it now out of worry or concern. They just want to let me know that they're there, and they haven't forgotten. They want to be reassured that after all these years, I am in a good place.
And I am. I'm in a place where grief no longer makes the demand to bring it back. Instead, peace issues the challenge to bring it on.