Grief Knows No Timeline

This week has been a tough week for me since 2014. I've shared about the "dark" days following my graduation before and every year I feel it sneaking in again. There's a tightening in my chest & an ache to go back to the days leading up to May 13, 2014. 

On that day in 2014, I woke up knowing it could (or could not) be my last time lacing up my cleats. It had been an emotional trip to Michigan for the Opening Round of the National tournament. This was my third time in my career to play in the post-season so I knew the nerves & excitement well - just not as a senior heading to the end of a (very fun) softball career. I had graduated just three days earlier. We had a few minutes between the ceremony and our departure to celebrate and take photos while the underclassmen waited on a fully-loaded (and energetic) bus. I made a quick call to my grandparents that couldn't make the ceremony & then turned my phone off to head to Michigan. 

Our first game in the tournament was May 12. We took a loss which meant it would be tough to win the tournament (not impossible - just tough). The next day, we won our first game but the next game would be against the team that had beat us the day before. Ugh. I like to block out the memories of that game because it wasn't our best (or mine personally). We lost & it was a huge mix of emotions. For the three seniors, it was officially the last. For the underclassmen, they still had time and now it was summer. We loaded up after some tears and headed back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner & some fun. Or, so I thought... 

When we got close to the hotel, Coach called me to the front of the bus. I thought I would pick where we ate and that maybe she'd tell me we could officially FINALLY be friends. A moment I had been waiting for!!! We made small talk and she kind of held me on the bus while my teammates cleared. Something was off, majorly. After a few minutes, I looked up to see my family crossing the parking lot - all of them crying, including my Dad. Wait, why was my Dad crying? I knew he loved the game as much as me but I had stopped crying already. And then it hit me - something bad had happened. During my final game, my Papa took his last Earthly breath and headed home. I don't really remember the next few minutes except for a lot of tears, blacking out, and feeling like I had been stabbed in the chest. I didn't even get to hug him one last time or say goodbye. It didn't feel real & it still doesn't today. 

That summer would go on to steal my Grandpa Tom (only 10 days later on May 23), my Mema Carol (August 6), and my little cousin, Dayne (August 28). Hit after hit after hit. I thought graduation meant new beginnings & a fun, new life! Instead, it brought a long season of grief and wonder (and also the most growth you could imagine for a 22 year-old-recent-college-graduate). 

That season taught me the importance of love & family. It didn't make sense at the time and I still struggle with the grief. The losses don't hurt any less but the memories of finding myself & my faith help ease the pain somewhat. I dove head first into finishing the MBA I had started in my senior year, got my first "real" job with Veterans United Home Loans, and decided to open my first business, Wild Rose Monogram & Gift. I used my grief from 2014 to fuel my fire in 2015 and then in 2016, well, a little love story began. That love story includes Tyler & TSR so maybe I'll share that one some day soon! ;) 

Friends, if you struggle with grief, I want you to know that it's okay. Grief knows no timeline. It's okay to struggle for years and years and years. 

One day, I'll see all of my angels again & oh, what a day that will be! 

Have a great Monday! Thanks for reading! <3 

- MacKenzie 

For fun, here's my William Woods University bio. And, yes, I do still dig into the archives & read stories, assess stats, & reminisce on the good days ;)