17 years, 9 months & 6 Days

It is a formidable task to summarize my October. It was my strangest experience with #AdamsActs thus far, due to a number of personal factors, not to mention that my grief journey has never been easily wrapped up with a tidy little bow. This explains why this attempt at a videoblog yesterday went so horribly wrong:

Wrapping things up with a tidy little bow is simply not how I operate. It’s not really how grief operates either.

I think I am starting to realize that my grief will do her own thing. She can be bossy and invasive, provoked at the smallest remark. It’s silly, but when people are discussing height, my grief awakens - on the wrong side of the bed to be sure. I am 5’ 9” making my amazon-woman-self  stand taller than both my parents and a solid four inches taller than either of my sisters. Grief noses in to remind me that I am not supposed to be the tallest one in my family. Adam was taller than me. He was supposed to be in sibling pictures with Kristin, BethAnn and I, and he was supposed to balance it all out. My grief can interrupt normal conversations about something as arbitrary as height, and sting me with her reminders.


Sometimes, the word “sting” is the understatement of the century. My grief, at times, can be oppressive and consuming. Sometimes, it feels like she is threatening to swallow me whole. The totality of my grief in these moments doesn’t even require a trigger. Without warning, without provocation, this form of grief settles over me like a nebulous fog… blurring and shading even the most joyful moments in my life.

Personifying my grief is helping me understand her a bit better. She is a constant companion, and a fearsome thing to behold and no matter what I do, she will always exist. Rather than trying to shut her away in the attic of my memories, I am learning how to get along with her. I am learning to appreciate her. Because the reality is, that she is actually me. My grief is so much a part of who I am, it is so deeply embedded in my childhood experiences, it has shaped so much of my faith and my character, that this wild and unpredictable thing in me… is me.  

So, I am trying to make peace with her. I am trying to see the beauty in her. And I am becoming so fond of the gift that she has brought into my soul. Because, grief is not all thorns and splinters. Grief does not dim light or joy. It is powerful, but it is not more powerful than redemption. And the redemption story here is that God has allowed my grief to be the thing that does not dim light, but it softens and it disperses light. It makes light gentler, and perhaps more soothing, I think. It is the thing that stops me from ever pushing an agenda, it is the thing that makes me long to connect with others before ever presuming I should correct others. It is the thing that humanizes us all, it connects us all, it equalizes us all. It is the reason I don’t want to judge, it’s why I don’t want to be cold, or distant or harsh. It is what draws me into the stories of other people, it ignites care and concern for every person on the planet. Without the defining and elemental presence of grief, this light and fire in me would go unchecked. When a light is so bright and unbridled, it can be painfully blinding to those in its presence. I like that my grief softens things just a bit. I think it draws people in to it’s warmth, it invites anyone and everyone to sit beside it and just be. A softened light does not require anything of others, it just gives off enough light to help them find their way a little easier.

This is kindness. To soften ourselves and our expectations of others just enough to be a light to them. Not a light that overwhelms or pushes an agenda or causes people to recoil, but a softer, gentler, more tender light with enough restful shade that people aren’t afraid to sit a while and talk.

In only 17 years, 9 months and 6 days on this planet, Adam was able to be that sort of light to any and all people around him. The gentle and inviting light of Christ, his redeemer, shone in my brother in a way that was powerful enough to leave this legacy for thousands of people. Not perfectly, but consistently, he set for me a human example of how to love others the way a perfect God asks us to. With a light that is softened with warmth, compassion and kindness… but is still bright enough to ignite a movement around the world.


I loving memory of Adam H. Provencal,

Love, your baby sister.