I sit alone in my room. Kids are tucked into bed. Husband is downstairs watching a football game.

The soft glow of light shines from my bedside lamp. Snuggled against the pillows, this place is my safe haven. A place I find rest and peace from the busyness of each day.

I find a familiar episode of Gilmore Girls and settle in to watch, but more importantly, to remember. My sister Katrina loved this show. And it was one of the last things we did together. We’d sit on her bed, she too weak to get up, hunkered down with drinks or snacks or just each other to watch episodes together.

We’d laugh and cry, interspersing our own conversation against the replayed episodes we’d watched more than a few times.

“I wonder what your kids will be like?” she’d say. I’d smile and tell her my hopes for the future with my then-boyfriend-now-husband Kyle.

“I can’t wait for you to have babies,” she’d respond. “I can’t wait to watch our kids grow up together.”

“Me neither,” I’d reply.

Shaking off the knowledge of how sick Katrina truly was, in the space and security of her room, with the Gilmore Girls playing in the background—life felt safe. Normal. Like it could go on as it had forever.

Until it didn’t.

This October it was ten years since Katrina died.

I count the years each fall as I’m inevitably drawn to sitting in my room, watching Gilmore Girls, subconsciously recreating memories with Katrina.

I wonder what she would think of my kids? I wonder what trips we would have taken? I wonder if she’d be writing with us? Or if she would still have her interior design business?

Grief, 10 years later, looks different than it did at first. No more the overwhelming, almost physical ache, but a softer hurt. Deep in your soul.

Most days, you’re okay. Most days are good.

But there are those days, few and far between, that hit like a wave. The loss of a shared journey we’ve no longer had these last ten years seems overwhelming. Simply the lack of her presence submerges me until I find myself in a puddle on the floor.

Or sitting in a room, watching reruns of a show that’s long since ended.

Reminding, once again, that things will never be the same. That life goes on and memories continue to be made without her. And that is the most bittersweet thing about grief, a catch-22. As the aching loss of the person lessens on a daily basis, your memories created together lessen as well.

So where’s the hope? Sometimes I wonder.

But I know it is there, if I’ll lean into the grief to see it.

I find it in the laugh of her daughter, now fifteen, who’s unknowingly taken on many of her mother’s mannerisms. I find it in memories. In the faith that I have that I will one day see her again. In the joy of remembering how she lived. How she encouraged. How she loved Jesus and others so well.

It comes in the knowledge that others have lost loved ones as well, and that I am not alone. In sharing with others the loss I’ve experienced, and listening as they share their stories of loss, too.

It’s not much, but somehow, it’s enough.

Kendra Egeland Roehl

Author Kendra Egeland Roehl

Kendra received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and has worked for hospice programs, low-income housing, and the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center. A mother of four, she and her husband are both foster and adoptive parents. She is a speaker and writer about topics such as marriage, motherhood, foster care, adoption, and social justice at The Ruth Experience.

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