It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write it all out..to get it all out. I write to release, that’s it. And tonight, I need a release, a big one.
I’m not sure if in my year and a half grief journey this far I’ve experienced the feeling of pure anger. I’ve experienced anger, especially at the beginning but it was more of an innocent anger. I was angry but during that first year, I was so fresh in pain that I wasn’t really sure what I was angry about, maybe I just thought I was supposed to be angry.
But now, there are moments that I am so filled with anger, frustration, disappointment, hurt, sadness, and loss that I feel like I really might explode from the inside out.
People always told me that the second year was the hardest and every single time I heard that, I thought to myself there was no possible way the second year could be harder than this. It could not be harder than waking up every single day with tears rolling down your face, it couldn’t be harder than feeling numb to everything and everyone around you, it couldn’t be harder than barely being able to move, feeling like you just can’t make it any further.
But I was wrong. They were right.
Here I am in the middle of the second year and excuse my language but it’s hard as hell.
I am experiencing all of the emotions that I felt that first year but now I am experiencing them on a very raw and real level. I am no longer numb. I feel everything and most of the time, too much of everything.
In my second year of this grief journey, right at the beginning of it- I was hit with something that felt just like another death to me, because in my eyes- it was. I lost my very best friend, someone who meant the world to me, someone that carried me through the mountains and valleys of that first year. I remember the night and instant pain that hit. How could someone just walk out of your life? How can someone choose to not be in someone’s life when some people would give anything to be in others.. and even theirs. No, this person did not die, but in my grieving eyes- it felt as though they did.
In that second year, the very beginning of it, I felt anger, but I hid it.
As graduation rolled around and many of my friends were getting engaged, married, and even just graduating with ones the love- I couldn’t help but wonder why this happened to me. Selfishly, and I will say selfishly, I questioned why me? Why Chad? Why did this have to become my story? Why not someone else’s? I scrolled through instagram seeing kisses on cheeks and “congrats baby” and “this is just the first step into the rest of our lives together” and as I kept scrolling, I hit my own instagram and saw me kissing a white rose. A white rose that meant Chad was the best years of my life but held the steady reminder that he was gone.
And in that second year, I felt anger, but I hid it.
After graduation, two days after actually, I boarded a plane and made my way to Europe. I knew I needed to get out of Charleston, I needed to see some of the world, and I needed to leave the pain that comes with Charleston behind for awhile. I went to Italy and Greece with my best friend and while I experienced a trip of a life time, a weight dragged behind me, I carried it on my shoulders until one night I couldn’t carry it anymore. I sat there, staring into the city of Mykonos, Greece- angry. I was here because this trip, this island was on my bucket list. I was there because Chad had saved for an engagement ring and never had the chance to spend the money he worked so hard to save- for me. I felt selfish. A piece of me felt wrong for being there for me. Chad’s amazing parents gave me the money that he saved specifically for my ring and as I held it tight for a year, as I waited and waited to buy a plane ticket across the world with it because it didn’t feel right, I just couldn’t think about it. It made me sick to my stomach.
That night I sat there in Greece, crying and crying. I became so mad, so sad. I knew why I was here. I knew that I would give anything in this world to never experience this trip to have Chad back- to have the life we planned back.
And in that second year, in Greece, I felt anger, but I hid it.
Then came the Jefferson Awards- another experience of a lifetime. A time that was honoring the work my team and I had put in. The experience is one that I will carry with me for the rest of my time on this earth, it was one of the top moments of my life. And I grew angry.
I grew angry that this experience was happening and the love of my life was not here. In fact, some of the reason that I was there, was because of his story. I loved sharing Chad’s story that weekend, sharing the story of our love and his support for me and Charleston Hope and the incredible ways that we got to honor him through what we do. I loved loved loved it- but for a few moments- I was angry inside.
I was angry that in an instant things can be taken from you in this lifetime. I was angry in that moment that God would bless our team and me with this honor but put me through so much pain the past year and a half (yes, selfish, I know). I was angry in that second that Chad was not here. That’s it. I was point blank angry that Chad was not here.
And in that second year, in one of the most honorable moments, I felt anger, but I hid it.
It wasn’t until about last week, Thursday to be exact, that I realized how much anger I had been hiding. It had been a long day and I was officially working full time for Charleston Hope. As I played down on my roommates bed debating on whether to go home or stay downtown with them- I felt it. Anger.
I didn’t think I could be honest about it. I felt like I had to hide it yet again, so I did. I quickly packed my bags and said I have to go home- and I did.
That drive home is one I will never forget.
As I sat there thinking about my life and the growth and the strength the Lord has pushed through me the past year and a half and as I sat there thinking about all that the Lord has brought from and through this darkness- holy crap, I got angry.
I felt a fierce anger at the Lord for blessing me so much in the past year and a half, for bringing blessings and joy again through this loss and heartbreak. I grew angry at God for putting us through this. I thought about his brothers and sisters who I love so much, I thought about his best friends, his teammates, and mostly- his parents. I thought about the strength they have showed, the grace, the faith, and the love they have filtered into so many other people through this. I thought about the Cooke family and just how much they mean to me and I grew more and more angry. Why them? Why this family? Why? How could you do this? Why would you do this?
I grew angry at the goodbye’s I had to say to the other people in my life. I grew angry at God for bringing people into my life only leading to me more and more goodbyes. I grew angry at the thought of people walking out of your life, choosing to say goodbye when they are people in this world that would give ANYTHING to have one more hello. I grew angry at God for giving me so much in this lifetime, so so so much.
I grew angry at God for giving me things that made saying goodbye to so hard.
And then it hit me.
And for the first time in a year and a half, I grew angry at Chad.
I yelled at Chad. I yelled at him for promising me forever. I yelled at him for saving for my ring and for choosing the morning he died to start picking one out. I yelled and screamed and cried. I yelled at him for making me feel so safe the way he always did. I yelled at him for making me feel as though nothing else mattered in this world because I was with him, I was safe right there in his arms. I screamed at him for believing I was stronger than I knew, for telling me he could go years without seeing me and that his love would never ever change. I grew angry thinking about the way he opened up to me, thinking about the way he trusted me, thinking about the way he let me in. I grew more and more angry as every kiss, every I love you, every “I promise I’ll never leave you”, flashed through my mind.
I am not sure I’ve felt anger like this before. I pulled over to the side of the road and I cried. I cried like I hadn’t cried in months and months. I hit my steering wheel, I punched the side of my door, I pulled my hair screaming and crying out of anger.
As minutes passed by, I began to feel a calmness rush over me. I felt a stillness. I felt a presence. I heard the Lord tell me to get it out. He could take it. As I began to feel waves of guilt crash into me, my cries began to soften. My guilt calmed me. The Lord calmed me. Chad calmed me.
I felt so selfish for the things I thought, the things I had longed for. I felt fake as I realized how I had pushed down my anger and feelings for so long- letting people believe my pictures on Facebook captured my feelings and thoughts these days. I felt wrong for so much, so so much.
As I sat there I began to talk to Chad, begging him to give me anything to let me know it was okay. And there it was. The one thing that we can treasure most when we lose someone- memories- hit me. I felt like I was there, I closed my eyes and I saw us standing there. I felt your hug, your kiss, and I heard your voice saying it, you said “Babe, I know you better and deeper than anyone. People may see you as Charleston Hope and more but I see you as SO MUCH MORE. I see your strength more than anyone, babe, you are stronger than you know.”
And in that moment, I knew I was stronger than I knew. I knew strength comes from weakness, from admitting your weakness, from feeling your weakness. I knew that strength comes from recognizing the pain, the struggles, the hurt- but choosing to fight with it and through it. I knew, and I believed, for the first time, because I finally felt what I needed to feel- I was stronger than I knew.
So many times we push away what we are feeling, we set it aside, stuff it in a box because we feel ashamed- at least I do. Every time I thought of my anger, I immediately pushed it down because anger, to most people, makes you seem crazy. I wondered what people would think if I told them that I felt genuine, pure, I could punch someone in the face right now anger. So I hid it, and I hid it well.
I’m not sure what you are going through these days, I honestly have no idea, and I am sorry for that. I hope someone in your life does. I hope there are people in your life that you can say the worst of the worst to. I hope you know that what you are feeling in this moment is valid, it’s real, it’s raw- but it does not have to last.
I think I felt if I admitted I was angry and scared, that it would follow behind me forever and it wasn’t until I felt it that I said goodbye to it. It wasn’t until I gave it to God, rawness and all, that I was able to see the beauty in the brokenness, the beauty that I had lost sight of.
So tonight, I hope you feel what you need to feel and I hope that you aren’t ashamed of it. I hope that you fall on your knees and beg the Lord to take away your thousand pound weight that is weighing on your shoulders. I pray that you beg God with such desperation that you begin to feel free as your fist hits the floor and the tears fall to the ground.
I pray that you never hide who you are, what you are going through, and the pain that you feel because I think to myself- if only I would have known the past few months that it is okay to be angry at God, to tell Him I am angry, and to feel what I need to only to hand it right over to Him- maybe, just maybe- I would have been free from the depths and pits of anger just a little bit sooner.
I hope you know that you are stronger than you know.