By Natalie Manchester
The sunrise is such a beautiful reminder that we have been given a chance at a new day and a new start. There is something amazing about watching the darkness disappear right before your eyes. A little over a year ago, the sunrise became nothing more than a reminder that I had to make it through another day. No matter how vibrant the colors, or bright the rising sun, its beauty and symbolism was overcome by the brokenness that had ravaged my heart. My daughter died from a common virus that had uncommon complications, and for the first time I came face-to-face with true sorrow.
Though this level of grief was new to me, I was sure that if I did it “right” then somehow I would break through in record time and could get on with my normal life. It didn’t take me long to realize the normal I once knew had been lost the day I lost my daughter and that grief had no rules that I could follow. I was a broken woman who saw life through the eyes of a broken heart, and the scene around me wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, I had the wonderful hope of Heaven and seeing my Savior and my precious girl there one day, but life in this world lost its luster. When I looked around I could no longer focus on the little, beautiful things that used to bring me so much joy, all I could see was the pain and hurt that was everywhere. I was surviving, and I was truly doing okay, and that seemed good enough. I accepted this life of survival as my new normal.
Just as I settled into the rhythm of this new normal, things changed. One morning while driving, I came face to face with an exceptionally beautiful sunrise. Instead of looking at it and thinking of the long day of survival ahead of me, I realized just how much I had missed living, really living. For the first time in over a year I was able to see the beauty in that sunrise and feel the breath of life breathed back into my broken heart. I wanted to enjoy life again. I wanted to laugh, really laugh, and not feel guilty afterward. I realized just how much I missed my friends, not their presence, but them. I wanted to be able to knock down the walls that had been built, so I could once again walk with them in the struggles they faced in their lives. I was flooded with hope that life could be good again and that just surviving isn’t what I was meant to do the rest of my life. There was more for me than simple survival and a world looked at with broken eyes.
One of the fears I had in reaching this point of living and being able to breathe again, was that in doing so, I would be pushed further from the memory of my sweet girl. When I stopped myself from enjoying life, I was reminded of her death and felt like I was keeping her close. I wasn’t until my sunrise moment that I was able to see that my joy and my pain can coincide and that I remember her just as much in my happy moments as the hard ones. In fact, when I am able to throw off the heaviness of grief long enough to laugh or dance without abandon, I can celebrate her even more as I picture her life, so full and sweet as she listens to the angels sing.
Once again I can look at the sunrise and enjoy the beauty and wonder that comes with each new day, only now I am reminded of the darkness that was overcome in my own life. I have found joy in the pain and seen light in the dark. My journey is far from over; I have a lifetime of grief to walk through, but I don’t have to walk through it in darkness. The sun has risen in my shattered heart and I can once again take in all the colors as beauty is being made from the broken.
Natalie is a music loving, sun and sand adoring woman with no rhythm, living in the north. She is a mom of four; two here and two in Heaven, and is a wife to her high school sweetheart who still makes her heart flutter. She works part time with some amazing kids in a preschool and has found sharing her journey of loss and healing therapeutic on her blog. Find her on Facebook.