The world around us freezes every winter, the ground hardens and is inhospitable for months. Nature is harsh, the winds blow and rain, hail and snow swamp the ground.
The earth endures the pain and hardship of bleak, dim, frigid days. Eventually emerging, slowly but surely. Tiny specks of green shoots show their heads and take their time to bloom with drooping silky petals bringing hope of the next progressive glimmers.
Each year we all notice that first day of spring. The bright blue skies letting the sun’s heat through rather than the blanket of warmth getting lost from under the cosy clouds. The snowdrops shining green and white amidst last year’s fallen leaves. The merest hint that the barren winter is receding. That first day comes every year and brings hope for the spring and summer ahead.
Just like winter’s passing, when we go through something awful and it’s over, readjusting starts with the smallest things. We start doing the little bits of every day life again, no matter how hard that is or how painful. Eventually, we have to start again. Like the snowdrops pushing through the hard ground and crispy leaves. All sorts of challenges face us too as we recover from our painful experiences. But we nevertheless take those tiny steps.
I remember the first tiny steps I took when I emerged from the gloom of grief after boy3 was born.
The first time I left the house was for sanitary towels, coping with the blood loss. The first time I went further than the local pharmacy was to return maternity clothes I no longer needed. Somehow, those trips out were part of the awfulness of our loss too.
The first time I did something “normal” was dropping the boys at school a couple of weeks later. My lovely mother in law came with us, protected me from the stares of the other parents. The boys ran off with their friends and in just 10 minutes I’d taken my first step back out of the bleak, hard, gloomy and harsh pain of utter grief.
From then on, every “first time” was sharp and wretched. The first period, the first time I saw a baby, the first mother’s day, the first time I held a friend’s baby, the first holiday, the first anniversary of his expected birth, the first time someone asked me if we would have more children, the first Christmas, his first birthday.
But I’ve done all those things twice now, some more times. There was only one first time and the next time was still pretty bad, but just a little bit less awful.
Each of those first times made me a little bit stronger and foretold of a future time when I would be able to smile again. The snowdrops let us know that sunflowers are coming later in the year.
Making it through those raw and miserable first times meant that I could smile again later.
And just like winter and spring, each time after the first is predictable, mostly. Some winters are colder and some springs are later. Sometimes there’s a cold snap, sometimes an early warmer spell. Grief works in a similar way, some reminders are unexpected and some we get through with less pain than we expected.
But spring does come, grief does lift and we can get back some of our old selves.
Notes on the Author and Illustrator
We simply adore AndSmelly. Her writing is always so pure and touches the heart, as well as bringing us joy. Take a look at her blog here. Keep up with the conversation of her life as a fantastic mother to two intelligently funny boys, running and making Gin here.
All illustrations provided within this series are the original and bespoke works of Monty Vern. Monty has also created “My First Time…Behind The Scenes” – a companion series to My First Time. In #MyFirstTime…#BehindTheScenes, Monty allows us to take a walk though his mind and talks through why and how he created the images. This is a collaboration is every sense. Keep up with the whole series by following T.B.C and Monty Vern