It’s back to school time.

I live in an area with year round schools but I’ve been seeing back-to-school pictures and posts since July. It’s this time of year, however, when traditional schools return to class that remind me that I will soon be entering the months leading up to Leah’s accident.

The new school year always brought excitement in our house.

Seeing friends again, new clothes, schools supplies, and the expectation of what the next school year would bring. Nothing marked the progression of time for me like school starting. I could see how much Peter and Leah had grown over the summer, not just physically, but in every other way. Very often a loss happens around the same time of some kind of milestone and the meaning of that milestone is forever changed. That’s what happened for me when Leah died. This time of the year always holds unexpected feelings, and I’m still discovering places that happens; almost 18 years later.

A few nights ago we were at a concert.

In the row in front of us there was a young woman who was pregnant. She was there with her family. A family friend came over, sat down in front of her, gently placed her hands on the woman’s pregnant belly, looking lovingly into her eyes, and said, “Look at you!” In that instant, I realized yet another experience I would not have, another secondary loss, I would never look into my pregnant daughter’s eyes placing my hands on her belly, the one holding my grandchild.

Tears came and I let them.

Long gone are the days when I suppress my feelings because they are too painful or because they come at an inconvenient time. I allowed the feelings to be there as I listened to the band playing, and in a few minutes the tears passed, leaving in their wake, a tender place in my heart. My heart was opened a little more in that moment and it allowed me to feel the music and the energy of the band in a deeper way.

It astounds me that my grief journey continues to bring me profound insights each time I fully engage with my feelings. Last night it would have been easy to suppress that particular moment, to look away and only listen to the music. If I had I would have missed an opportunity to understand a little more about my feelings and how they allow me to say yes to the full spectrum of who I am.