some things i haven’t said.

Next week marks one year without our wild and beautiful and creative and passionate and incredible son here on this earth. At the mom’s grief group that I’ve been going to these past few months, I gleaned some wisdom we’ve been trying to hold on to as October 28th approaches—often, the anticipation of the big dates are worse than the dates themselves. As we feel the weight in every cell of our bodies of 12 full months without Jared, I am trying to anchor into that possibility. October 28th will forever be the worst possible day of the year, and there will never be a way around it, but we know the sun will set that day and will rise on the 29th.

We have crawled our way through 358 days together, with our family, our community, with other moms and dads who know this brutal feeling. COVID on top of grief extra sucks; we had so many barriers to being with our young adult kids scattered around the US and marking some significant other life transitions, but we know we aren’t alone in that feeling. The entire world is suffering, too.

And really, we are more aware than ever, that everyone is grieving something right now. 2020 has been full of so much death and loss and disruption and pain, and there’s a helluva lot of other people on the floor crawling through this year, too. 

As we find our way to one-year next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how many things I wish I could have said this year—not just about grief but about so many other parts of life I care about. Over the past year, I’ve talked plenty about grief and our path and tried to be as honest as I could in different spaces online and in real life. Today, though, as I look back on this truly sh*t year and so much that’s happened not only in our own story but in the world’s story, too, I felt like sharing a few things I would have written or spoken about if I could have.

Things I would have posted about.

I would have ranted about.

I would have been an advocate for.

I couldn’t–and I still can’t in the ways I wish–but for whatever reason I just wanted to say them out loud today. 

Here are a few off the top of my head, not necessarily in any order (Any of these rattling around in your head these days, too?):

Watching patriarchy do its thing gets old. It’s exhausting, being in 2020 and seeing the same old power do the same old things over and over again, with just a few more women in the room. We’ve come a long way, but we sure do have a long way to go. 

When the glamour of anti-racism work wears off, there will continue to be so many courageous and faithful people still fighting for freedom. They’ve been hacking at this for generations upon generations, and while white people finish our books and wrap up listening to the newest and best podcasts and find out that the deepest work is decades long and often underneath the surface, there will still be tireless work being done by the ones who are the most tired. 

This current U.S. presidential administration and the ongoing travesty is not only exhausting, it’s telling. People are addicted to kings, are racist and classist and sexist and every other -ist, bend religion to our whims, and will do absolutely anything to preserve our power and stay comfortable. It’s humanity on steroids, and a change in administration will not take care of this dysfunction (but at least we can not be gaslighted every day).

The U.S. response to COVID is what happens when Christians were taught that science was evil. It’s unreal, really, how a public health issue has become about trusting God and not being controlled by the liberals. We are reaping the exact fruit we planted, and it is rotten. 

On the whole, “the church” and our modern systems are just so freaking non-creative. COVID has offered an amazing chance to do things differently, to mix things up, to turn our eyes outward and toward true community, toward being the hands and feet of change in significant ways, toward creative ways to gather; yet, somehow, it’s been all about defaulting to weekly online services streamed on Facebook on Sunday? What? I know some groups are really working hard to try to do things differently, but on the whole, it points to the bigger problem—the church’s addiction to comfort and a true lack of innovation. 

COVID has magnified our class differences like none other. Observing how the world has shifted to assumptions that people have internet, ZOOM accounts, and the ability to order things on Amazon has been so disturbing in the world I live in where a lot of my friends don’t even have a cell phone. 

It sucks to have a book come out a few weeks before the entire world shut-down (on top of going to production the same week Jared died). The reality of that little labor of love—Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World—a project I deeply care about and is the integration of some of my deepest values—ending up with this timing is sad and weird. That’s all. 

Despite all these things that are so distressing, so strange, so sad, I also can’t help but draw back on this truth–when it’s all said and done the thing that endures are relationships and people. 

Life is filled with so much pain and beauty and mess and despair and hope and loss and unexpected realities and huge traumas and things not being even remotely close to what we imagined. But we are in good company with other humans who are human-ing, too, and we desperately need each other. 

Thanks for listening. I know there’s so much more that’s swirling around in the world, our lives, your lives, but sometimes bullet points have to do.

Here’s to all of us crawling alongside each other through a year none of us would have asked for but we’re all doing our best to survive. Our family’s next work: keep breathing and survive next week (and, ugh, the week after that, the election.)

That’s plenty.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life and online. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

6 Comments

  • Kathy,
    I just like and respect you so much and I soak up every word you say. You are the kind of Pastor I can actually hear when do many others have been corrupted.

    Just…Thank You.

    Your fan,
    Jennifer

    Reply
  • Well said Kathy. I will be thinking of you, your family and praying that each day your memories fill you with peace.

    Reply
  • Kathy,

    My to compare with the loss of a son, but to attempt to relate – I lost my mom Nov 1 and my wife Jan 27. The things you spoke are core truth, and I have experienced and feel THE SAME about most of the things you shared. I know God will sustain, but sometimes he just lets life beat the SH*T out of us, doesn’t He? That messes with the head, heart, and faith journey. Thanks for your transparency. May the same God who allowed all this somehow find a way to help us learn to live with what we can’t “get over,” “fix,” or “be past yet.”

    Reply
  • To my beautiful and amazing niece, I’m more sorry than words can express that you are experiencing this sadness ! Your pics of your hike with Jose and pup are stunning. Certainly looks like a peaceful warm place ! Even in the snow !! I cud almost picture Jared on the wings of that eagle taking him even farther than he’d ever been! Your generosity to the world leaves me gobsmacked!! Love ya kiddo

    Reply

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