Colors of Goodbye

Saturday, May 7, 2016

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It will never go back to the way it was. How I fight against the new normal. Even three years later. Fifteen years ago. The amount of time doesn't matter, because while the soul-sucking grief lightens I still struggle under the shock of what has become my life. I will never totally get over it. I won't really even survive it. Someone new will become me, because grief and loss changes us in ways we could never imagine. I have known grief many times over: miscarriage, abuse, death, and angst that lead to relational loss. Each time I have cried out to God in my anguish. Every time He has heard me. No, He hasn't given me back what I loss. In its place, He has given me something else. I now know courage, strength, and peace like never before. Am I whole? Hardly. But maybe whole isn't the goal this side of heaven. Maybe it is more of a journey to walk with the One who will eventually fill those holes.

Last week I picked up a book on grief...

At first, I fought with myself. Can I really read this book about a woman who lost her nineteen-year-old daughter to a brain aneurysm? After all, I currently have a 19-year-old son. Would fear creep in for my own offspring? Because of my other losses would I be able to read about hers? I opened up the book anyways.

I am so glad I did.

On May 31, 2008, September Vaudrey said goodbye to her daughter as she left for her new job. It would be their last goodbye. Yet, it wasn't. After Katie, her daughter, suffered a brain aneurysm which caused a car accident as she drove to work, September would live years of goodbyes as she let go of her daughter and the life they once had as a family of seven. Colors of Goodbye is September's memoir of holding on to her daughter while letting her go.

This book that I was afraid to pick up I couldn't put down. The Vaudrey family story is gripping, and September's writing is beyond beautiful. Throughout it, she describes her fight with grief and how she coped. Her writing and thoughts give a deep look into ways we handle grief and how we push through the pain, but what I appreciated most was September's humor. I have learned through my own personal experience that one of the ways to deal with extreme pain is to laugh. I know that may sound a little irreverent or crazy, but somehow pain and laughter coexist in a bittersweet life.

If you have had grief and loss I encourage you to read Colors of Goodbye. Buy a big box of tissues and find a place where you can cry as you read. (By the way, don't read this book in public if you don't like people staring at you with mascara running down your face. Take it from my voice of experience.) You will be blessed beyond measure as you read...

I will leave you with a few quotes from the book one from Katie and the rest from September...

"I want to leave ripples in the lives I leave behind..." -Katie Vaudrey, age 15

"I am good, I sense Him (God) say. This tragedy doesn't change My character. It doesn't change who I am. I am good."

"(Tip: If you are a woman in a season of loss, stock up on waterproof mascara!)" --Oh, how I loved September's quips and humor!

"Heartbreak comes in many colors-death, divorce, job loss, poverty, relational fractures, abuse. Pain is the great equalizer, and it spares no one."

"But I am learning to cherish each day for what it is, not what it might have been."

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