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Griefville: A Parallel Universe

I am now in this new and scary place, where every day when I wake up I have no idea what I will feel, what I will face, what memories of my old home will fill my mind...

A resource by Deserie Rivera

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Griefville: A Parallel Universe

by Deserie Rivera

On May 25th, 2019, I entered a parallel universe – one I never thought I’d ever have to live in. This new universe that I am now forced into, is one without my mom. Understanding the mortality of human beings, of course I always knew that my mother wouldn’t live forever. Yet still, I never gave it much thought that someday I’d actually have to live without her.

As I write this, I am 2 days shy of an entire year of living in this foreign place. I still don’t know how to interact with the locals, I still don’t know the customs of this new society, and I still don’t understand the language of this new universe of Grief. I think I do a pretty good job of seeming like I fit in. On the surface I look like I belong. One glance at me, and you’d never think I was a foreigner. But I was never meant to live here. I was never meant to navigate a world in which I don’t have my mother with me. Yet here I am, snatched out of my previous home where everything was safe and familiar, where I felt complete and whole, where I felt like I was my true self.

I am now in this new and scary place, where every day when I wake up I have no idea what I will feel, what I will face, what memories of my old home will fill my mind and how I will react to those memories. I am stuck here, desperately trying to build a bridge between this new reality and the one I lived in for 37 and 1⁄2 years. How was I expected to leave that comfort of so many years to now this “new normal”, without a map or GPS to get myself around? No flashlight to see what lies ahead. No compass to tell me where I am. Instead, I’ve been feeling around in the dark with a blindfold on, trying to survive in this new world without my mother’s smile, her laugh, her jokes, her advice, her friendship. A huge part of me was left back home, and now I am here, partially me, partially her but only through the memories and things I’ve learned from her. While I am grateful for those memories and lessons, it still doesn’t feel the same and the frightening thing is that it never will. I’ve been given a one-way ticket to Griefville, population: Me.

The one familiar face I have to count on here in this new place is God’s. It’s amazing that the same God that lived with me back home when I had my mom is the God that also lives with me in Griefville. He actually came with me! He didn’t stay in my previous universe to watch me try to navigate this new one. Instead, He knew exactly when I would make the transition. He strengthened me as I felt my world slip away from me in those days spent at the hospital at my mother’s bedside. My mother made sure of it days before her departure when she looked up at me, took my hand and said “Are you sure you’ll be ok? God will give you the strength.” When I let go of her hand I had to grab onto God’s because I knew He was the only one that could help me in my journey to Griefville.

As I sit and reflect on my first full year living in this parallel universe, I realize that my GPS was God all along. Every difficult day I’ve endured here, He’s been with me. All the big “firsts” without my mom: a new school year, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, her birthday, Mother’s Day... God was with me through it all. There were days I felt His guidance more than others, but even on the days I didn’t “feel” Him, He was there.

I praise God every day that He came to live with me in this new world. There is a song by Elevation Worship that has taken so much deep meaning in my heart. It is called “Here Again” and one part of it says, “Not for a minute was I forsaken, the Lord is in this place.” Yes, even THIS place. This place that I’ve named “Griefville”, a new parallel universe where I’ve got one year down, the rest of my life to go. He will meet me here, again, over and over, just as He’s always met me wherever and whenever I’ve needed Him.

So, mama, you were right once again like you always have. God has definitely given me the strength to be able to live my life without you. Even though I miss you like crazy and wish I could go back “home”, I will just have to wait until I can go to our eternal “Home” where you’ve been living for a year already, waiting for me with a perfectly made bed, my favorite meal and tons of stories to tell me about how amazing it is there. I miss you and love you, always and forever.

My Inspiration

In the days leading up to the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, I struggled with sorting out my feelings of the first full year without her. I decided to write this piece as a way to reflect on this year.

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