Or, secondary firsts. What is that, you might ask? They are strange little occurrences that pop up from almost nowhere. These apply to those folks that are going through a grieving process. A grieving process does not play by any rules, has no time outs, no intermissions, and no time limit. Therefore, one never knows when a sweet little 2nd/1st – says with tongue firmly in cheek – might grab you off guard.
Point of reference: When you have lost a spouse, like I did, or a child, or parent, or perhaps you are just the other side of a divorce, grief is real. We know that the FIRST birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Anniversary, first date, first time you hear ‘that’ song, the list is goes on. We expect those, plan for them, or don’t plan for them, whichever the case may be. Emotionally, we prepare, analyze, think through how we will handle it, etc.
BUT, wait – those Second Firsts are the ones that seem to jump up and bite you out of nowhere. You have no time to plan, no time to think it through, no time to, well – simply NO TIME.
I can honestly only speak from my personal experiences on this. Prayerfully, if you are reading this, maybe it will prepare you for yours, or, at least help you understand someone that is experiencing one of these unexpected emotions.
Here are some pictures from my world.
My husband passed on October 20, 2013, on November 5th, 2013 my daughter gave birth to grandboy #4. I cried walking into the hospital. WHY could you NOT have held on one more month? Whoops! Didn’t see that one coming.
I remember waking up one morning – ANGRY – and I mean, throw cups against the wall kind of angry. You don’t get that way, do you? Mid day, my phone rang. I looked down, and noticed it was a friend, yet, also she is the mother in law of one of my children. I seriously considered NOT answering it. I did. I am still thankful I did. I just broke down weeping. She stopped what she was doing, and came over. I realized at some point it was a month since he had passed, yet, my brain wasn’t registering it. Oh, and we did finally discuss the reason of her call.
I was angry when I boarded a plane to California to visit my sister. Why? Because I was able to take that trip because he was gone. I went on a camping trip that we always did together. Well, actually, I will call that one a ‘normal’ first – but, some of the second firsts came during that trip. Out of nowhere – freight train came around the corner, and bam! It hits.
I was sad when our oldest son and his wife gave birth to their first baby, grandboy #5.Though I was profoundly thankful that Ted knew they were having a baby.
A couple of weeks ago, our youngest son was taking his test for the Military. Under any circumstance, my stress level would have been high, but, so much more knowing that Ted wasn’t seeing this come to fruition. I was sad. I was angry, I was? I remember looking up and saying ‘do you realize what P is doing today?’ For the record, I cleaned the crazy out of my back yard that day.
More recently, we had a water crisis in my city. Or, so they said. This was a second first. While there was nothing my husband could have done to fix the situation, he would have fixed it in my brain. Emotions all over the globe.
Now enters today – and what really caused me to finally type this post.
I was driving and received a text message. I did what most folks do, take a quick look. I knew it was from my oldest son, since he has a specific ringer. All I saw was baby boy becklet and hospital. I called him. By the time the phone call was over, I was crying like a baby. Second first. I am doing this emotion ALONE. I remember a few years back, he and his bride were in a very serious car accident. Though they were fine, by the Grace of God, he called Ted first, Ted told me.
I was shaking, kind of crying. Our first born’s first born is in the hospital, in ICU, at five months.
I did what most normal people do, I phoned a friend. She quite literally had to talk me out of the tree. I was crying so hard. I probably made no sense. Second First.
I can’t even begin to tell you when these may hit you, however, hit you they will. Every emotion plausible is available to you! Ha! Anger, sadness, tears, gladness, sorrow – the deep unending kind of sorrow – wherever it takes you, ride it out. Like an ocean wave. Just go with it. When we fight, we drown.
Be that friend someone can call. Be that person, that when you call for something totally unrelated you stop what you are doing and go listen.
Those of us in the grief cycle have no idea when these waves are going to hit, but, they do. So unexpectedly sometimes. Some of us may be in the cycle still, but, have the ability to ‘be that friend’ also.
I wish I had a super catchy way to wrap this post up, but, I don’t.
Second Firsts. They are all around us. Be mindful of them, and ride the wave. Don’t let them suck you under. ~many hugs~