Today, I decided to do the incline to remind myself that I can do hard things.
As I walked stair after stair with Austin’s ashes on my back, I was reminded of the journey to this day four years ago. I felt the weight in my lungs I had first felt on the day I was told he wouldn’t come home with me. With each step I heard those words and felt the months that slowly lead to him. It was hard. Each step forward hurt, just like those days of carrying him. Each step felt like love.
The climb was exhausting; it took me over two hours to reach the top, and when I did; it felt like loss. I’m so proud of myself for going and doing, but on the top of that mountain, I felt his loss.
Most people only care about when you reach the top. They want to hear about the views and the beauty, and truly it was beautiful up there. And Austin was beautiful, too. But after this, after the summit, after the loss. You have to get back down again. People seem to forget that, I know I hadn’t thought much about it before. But to get back down the incline, you have two options. You can go right back down the way you came, or you take the longer, but simpler way. A four mile trail.
Healing is the coming down off the mountain. You can rush it, try to run back the way you came, tell everyone everything is fine. but honestly? You’ll probably end up falling, hurting yourself more, maybe even breaking yourself apart permanently. So, I took the slow way. And it still sucked. Seriously the going down is the worst part. It takes way longer than you think it will. You try to go faster and you might end up on the wrong trail completely lost. Too slow and people start asking if you’re ok when you are so obviously not ok.
Grief. Loss of a child. It’s like a mountain. You go through this unimaginable pain, making your way to the summit and exhaustion hits with every step. The summit for me is the moment I met Austin and the hours I spent with him. But his loss, the letting go and the journey from 2015 to now, that’s the long hike back. I’m slowly moving down from the moment Austin died, there is joy in the descent, as there is pain and hardship. Healing is slow and it is it’s very own journey. I’ll never find the girl that lived in me before I started the climb. I’ll never know what life would’ve looked like if Austin hadn’t died. All I can do is move forward in my healing, find ways to honor my littlest boy, and one day, at the end of this long journey, I’ll find myself face to face with a God who walked beside me the whole way, and a little boy I’d been missing my whole life.