I walk through conflict every day. Invisible to most, the conflict is inside of me, a legacy of grief. Like a set of scales: happiness and light on one side, darkness and sadness on the other. They fluctuate constantly, dipping side to side and back again, never quite achieving balance. No matter how bright the moment, grief is always lurking, ready to pull me back down. Because no matter what, my little girl will always be missing.
I’ve always been a striver. I can’t pinpoint an exact event that led to this annoying quality that urges me to always do better, but I can see how it has affected so many of my relationships and decisions. As a teenager, I found myself to be awkward and unsure, but I carried a fake shield of confidence to distract me from my uncertainty about never being good enough. Though I appeared to some as being “cool” and “popular,” comments such as “He thinks you’re fat, Missy,” seriously fed into the insecurity that assured me I could never really be good enough.
Over Christmas break, we took our daughters to see the movie Wonder. I was warned that this movie may be a bit hard for me, so I needed to be sure to bring Kleenex. I had also heard it was a wonderful movie about kindness, and a must-see for my kindness-preaching heart. Wonder was all the things I was encouraged and warned about. I cried, I laughed, and my heart went to an unexpected place.
I used to feel strong, invincible. Like I could take on the world at any moment. I was confident, bold, and mostly uncaring. My feelings were tucked away safe in a vault, and anger guarded it well—so well that I could make myself big and scary to make others back away. I never knew or felt anxiety, unease, or true uncomfortableness.
I gently held out my hand, slowly extending my fingers toward the flowers. The butterfly perched there, still for a moment, as if taking a deep breath before suddenly fluttering off into the sky. I watched it fly away with tears in my eyes. There was beauty in its freedom, but sadness too, as we had been together for a while.