...true care, truth brings. No, just kidding. I’m not talking about that Blink anthem. But what I will say, is more often lately, it’s all the small things that seem to bring the truth, make that sharp slap of reality hit the hardest. Simple, minuscule, routine, ordinary. Things that, pre-loss, wouldn’t even get a second thought can now bring on the silent sob, body crumbling, gasp for breath cry that comes when the tidal waves of the truth hit.
The peanut butter pretzels. Turning off the hall light after putting Vienna down for the night. Filling Lilly’s water bowl before bed. I see them in the closet, flick the switch, turn on the faucet and in some ways they scream louder, cut deeper than the empty bed and the missing car. These little, simple things, I cannot make excuses for. He’s not at work, not out with his brothers watching the games. He’s. Not. Here. And that’s the hard truth that those small things bring. Of course, the big things force me to acknowledge this twisted new reality, too. But those things I expected. There’s no grief course in high school or surviving loss elective in college (and let’s be real, there should be because no one’s out here using square roots and rational functions every day. Yes, I Googled that). I didn’t realize just how much the little, ordinary things would become triggers in such a large, impactful way.
As these days go on and the small things continue to bring the big breakdowns, it made me question, do we live each day taking the small things for granted? Or, do we go along, collecting the little bits of ordinary to fill up and shape each day? Use the small things to create the backdrops of our lives?
If someone had asked me that on December 3rd, 2020, I’m not sure what my response would be. On one hand, I believe we absolutely take the small things for granted. Our life as we know it is almost programmed to do so. We’re always looking for the new, the next, the novel. We rush around, focused on the big things, the to do lists, the future. All while never giving worry or thought to the peanut butter pretzels or the bed time routine, because they are our comforts, our small things. They’ve always been there. Quietly in the background, solid and consistent.
One the other hand, I like to believe that we have consciously and perhaps at times subconsciously made the choices and decisions that have created the backdrop of our lives filled with all the small things. Because we chose to be with that person, live in that house. We picked out that faucet, made sure our favorite snack is on hand. Because we chose these ordinary, simple things, we don’t take them for granted. We know just how important they are. After all, we chose them.
I’ve said before how much I love the simple, middle ground, life Joe and I have created. So I suppose, I shouldn't be surprised that I could miss him most, feel his loss the hardest, in all the small moments, all the small things. If someone told me December 3rd would be my last day with Joe, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Because, that day, that night, were filled with the routine, the call on the way home from work, the three kisses before bed. You guessed it, the small things.
I don’t think we should live with the fear that tomorrow, those moments, the small things, that person, may not be there. That fear becomes paralyzing and it isn’t living. But what I would like to do is live each day finding contentment in the ordinary and smiling at the simple. Let’s acknowledge the small, mundane things that make up our lives. Of course, there will be times when the big things overpower and the need for more, for the next, fuels your thoughts, but let’s do our best to appreciate switching off the hall light and celebrate the before bed routine because today, in that moment, they are happening, they’re making our life.
It goes without saying, my heart aches for our small things. Not because I don’t have them, but because I do have them, and see them and do them each day and he doesn’t. But then, I’m lucky. We spent the last 11 years collecting our simple and building our ordinary and each day, I’m reminded of our love, our life in all the small things.