I have this memory I think about a lot. It is my tenth birthday, and I have escaped to my parents’ bathroom to cry. On this happy day of cake and presents, it has hit me: I will never be single digits again. I want so much to be older, to experience more, to find out who I will become, but it has never before occurred to me that all that also means saying goodbye to being a kid. Starting today, my age will be a double digit, and it will never not be again. It is the first day of the rest of my double-digit life.
I was a weird kid.
This moment keeps running through my mind as I have been processing what it means to hit the ten-year anniversary of my dad’s death. A few years ago my brother wrote a poem in which he described his grief as having “reached the age of reading itself aloud.” My grief has now reached the age at which I myself could recognize that in time we grow and we heal but we also say goodbye to so much good, whether we’re ready or not. It will never be single digits again.
Again I find myself a bit overwhelmed as I face this milestone, but this time I’m ready. I don’t wish I was still ten years old, and I’m glad time kept moving, then and now. Over this past decade, my life has resettled into new patterns and routines, and it has been filled with so much goodness and love in ways I could never have anticipated. God has been faithful and good, and every single day has been a reminder of that.
Most days now my grief isn’t a struggle. I still miss him, and there have been moments this year when I wanted him to be able to hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay so badly that it physically hurt. What surprises me is that I like the missing. I will hold onto it for as long as I can. They were right when they said that time would heal. What they didn’t tell me is that the time itself would be a gift. To miss him is also to feel close to him. Days like today are a small, good thing; they remind me that I can still remember the depth of that loss as I felt it in those first moments, that I don’t have to feel that way every day now, and now, on this tenth birthday of my grief, that I really am ready for whatever is next.