I’m drifting down a winding road full of only trees and wildlife. There is a blanket of fog drifting across my path. If I didn’t know better, I would think I was in the middle of a forest and not an inner city road in Indiana. It’s our neighborhood’s little hidden gift, the way it feels like both the country and the city.
Like most mornings, I’m captivated by the cardinals that seem to always greet me and the way the clouds seem to always send me hidden messages. As I’m lost in thought, I’m unexpectedly forced to stop. Two deer have entered the road and demanded that I halt my vehicle. I let them pass and admire their beauty. Both deer jump into the brush on the opposite side of the road and carry on just as something catches my attention back where they came from– it’s another deer, a smaller one. I sit watching carefully, thankful that this road is usually unfrequented.
The deer steps up to the edge of the road, watching and waiting. I can only imagine she’s looking for the ones who journeyed before her. I’m intently watching the movements and wonderings of this creature. She takes a step and then steps back. She does this a few more times, while continuously looking around– front to back, side to side, constantly searching. She looks unsure. She looks afraid. She looks confused as to whether to move forward or step backwards towards the path she’s already been. She waits as she ponders her choices. In what seems like hours, but is actually more like minutes, she slowly and reluctantly walks to the other side. Once she’s there she starts hopping with more charisma and more joy. Before I can snap a picture at her dramatic change in attitude she is out of sight.
I smile as I begin driving again, somehow feeling proud of this light-brown beauty. I know it might seem strange to some but this deer just showcased an important life lesson. This deer just reminded me of the bravery of those that have to walk alone, especially those that once walked with someone they loved.
This deer just reminded me of the resiliency of those that have to continue walking once significant loss has entered their lives. There is bold courage and strength in continuing to step forward into a life void of someone you love. This deer reminded me how much fear and confusion and reluctancy there is in life when you hold grief and heartbreak.
But she stepped into the new path, even though it was unknown. She stepped onto the road, which was dark and hard, even though she didn’t know where it would lead and ignoring the fact that she was now walking it independently. And when she got to the other side, she pranced. She let go of the fear and joyfully claimed delight and safety again, even though it was hard and even though it wasn’t immediate.
This deer just reminded this grieving heart that while things are now difficult and uniquely changed, I need to keep stepping. The only way to get to the other side is to actually take that first step into the hard and into the dark. The other side will still hold challenges and loss and grief and unknowns but it will also hold the gifts of what remain.
Keep stepping, even if you find yourself alone.
Keep stepping, even when the road is hard and full of darkness.
Keep stepping, even when you know the other side is different than you planned or wanted.
Keep stepping and journeying to the other side of grief.
The other side teaches you to live with both the loss and the importance of the life still left to live. It’s on the other side you learn to hold grief while also holding the gifts of what remain.
And I promise you friend, there are priceless gifts in what remains.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.