I laughed when I heard Bear’s resolution for the new year:
“Be nicer to Rafael.”
Those two provide more entertainment and drama than one house should hold. If she’s not chasing him around, seeking the sensory softness of his undeniably beautifully silky fur, then he’s lying in wait somewhere, acting very too-bored-to-even-move…until it’s time to pounce on her quick toes as she dashes by. I told her if she stops chasing, he might stop pouncing. I don’t know if it will work, but I guess she decided it’s worth a try.
Then she asked me if I made a resolution this year.
Her question stopped me because I typically don’t make resolutions. I think about things I’d like to do or that I need to do, but my thinking of those things and the coming of the new year rarely coincide, so I start most projects at random times. Some I stick with; others are shuffled aside when life gets busy or I get bored. Either way, not a very exciting answer for my girl.
So I told her that instead of resolutions, I liked to think of a word for the year, and then try to live that word, focus on it. Use it as a guide for my actions every day. I’ve been doing it intentionally for a couple of years now, but when I stopped to think about it, I realized I’d been doing it unofficially for longer.
On June 19, 2008, when we found out Kevin’s cancer wasn’t contained to his colon, but had already spread to his lungs and liver, we resolved to be a better husband and wife to each other. We promised to not let life’s little annoyances get in the way of living every moment in love with each other and our Bear. We still fought and argued, of course, but we kept that resolution. In one word: LOVE.
And on December 31, 2012, after the doctor told us that the end was beginning, we resolved to spend as much time as possible with each other and the Bear. Our decision to homeschool – a plan set in motion, thanks to God’s perfect provision, before we knew Kevin’s prognosis – made that possible and I treasure every moment of our last seventeen weeks together. In one word: FAMILY.
But I’m stuck right now, and if not for Beary’s question, I might not have even thought about coming up with a word at all this year. This curious juxtaposition of grieving and living – life stopping but life going on – it’s wearying. I don’t know what to do with it. Some days I throw my head back and laugh at my daughter’s wry and hilarious observations and I feel peace, and other days I drag myself to bed at night, feeling defeated by the effort of living without Kevin. I feel like I’ve lost my way and it doesn’t seem so simple to choose a word of the year for this unexpected life.
But then it occurs to me what my word should be…needs to be…has to be this year.
Defined in various online dictionaries, the word means to gain knowledge of something previously unseen or unknown. To notice or learn, especially by making an effort. To learn about for the first time in one’s experience.
I hope it will be discover in the obvious sense. I would like to travel and explore new places with my girl – just like her Daddy wanted her to. He wanted to give her the world because he just knew she’d know what to do with it.
But I hope it will be discover in a personal way, too. I need to learn how to simply be with my grief. Not set it aside, not try to get through it or past it, because I will grieve Kevin for the rest of my life. But I want to recognize how it’s changed me and somehow find a foothold of peace in this mountain of grief.
And most importantly, I want to discover what God’s plan for my life is. None of this is a surprise to Him, but my life isn’t what I thought it would be and I need to discover what He intends for me to do – for me, for my Bear, and for Him. I need to make an effort to really be still and let Him reveal what’s next. I can’t tell my girl that God has a plan and God works all things for good if I’m not willing to notice His glory and be thankful for His gifts and discover a deeper relationship with Him.
So I tell her, “My word this year is DISCOVER,” and her eyes light up with thoughts of spirited adventure, but I feel like God is going to use the little things – her laugh, a sunset, a visit with a friend, or a memory of Kevin – to guide me this year and help me discover my way again.