I looked in the mirror this morning and saw a woman ten years older than myself.
I was surprised, but not shocked.
I can now recognize the face of grief.
I have met many people (mostly women) over the last few weeks who have shared with me their grief story. I recognized that they had one before they ever told me.
The local florist who has now been to my home at least a dozen times lost her husband seventeen years ago. She held my hand and cried with me and told me to call her, anytime. Then she called me, to remind me to call her, anytime.
My neighbor's mother, whose husband passed this February. She slipped a piece of paper into my hand with her phone number on it. And whispered, "blessings". I saw the same look in her eyes that is now in mine.
A client of my husband's told me that he still has a voice message on his phone from his sister. It is five years old and is the last time he heard her voice before she was killed in a car accident. I recognized our friend grief in his voice as soon as I picked up the phone.
My sisters voices when we speak. I know they are grieving. I hear it in their voices and see it in their faces.
My children who are no longer littles, middles or kidadults. They are adults now. Living in a grown up world of sorrow.
My parents, who have aged more over the last few weeks than in the past few years.
My in-laws, my husband's family. All of them with a new sound, a heavy heart.
To know grief is a terrible, sorrowful thing.
Some of you may remember that during Christmas last year I was grocery shopping and a woman and her college age son were behind me at the checkout. She was sobbing quietly and the young man was gently rubbing her shoulder and telling her "it will be alright". At the time I thought they were having financial difficulties, you know, making ends meet during the holidays.
I now know that what I saw was the face of grief. They were suffering a terrible loss. At the time I did not recognize that face. Now, I will never forget it.