It stood there; bruised and battered. Shattered and broken. Lifeless and useless. But it still stood there.
I looked at it, like I had looked at it a million times before and was amazed at how strong it still stood in spite of the fact that it was missing most of it’s core. Piece by piece; board by board, the walls that once stood connecting each foundation beam, no longer visible.
“I wonder if it will survive the winter” I asked my husband. He looked at me, glanced at the barn as we drove by it and said; “Probably. The foundation and beams are still there. It’s crazy how much it has changed in a year” he added.
The reason why we knew how much the barn had changed throughout the year? Jude.
The barn had become a familiar landmark. A physical and a metaphoric one for us after loosing our son Jude. The barn, in all it’s retired glory, stood firmly planted 1/2 a kilometre from the resting place of our little boy.
Everyday on my way to work I pass the barn. I was familiar with the barn many years before I even met my son Jude. From the beginning, there was this inexplicable energy and connection to the barn. It kind of spoke to me – begged me in a way to capture and preserve it’s existence. For years, I drove by the barn reminding myself that I needed to one day stop and photograph it. I never did. Until Jude.
Until Jude, the barn was just a barn. Now, the barn is the place where I imagine my little boy sits and waits. Waits for me to drive by everyday and wave hello. I imagine Jude sitting on the peaked rooftop; knees tucked into chest, waving. The barn is the lighthouse that I look for on the foggy days to ensure I wave and blow a kiss to my sweet boy. The barn is a reminder that what once was, can never once again be.
But on that day, as my husband and I drove by the barn, the barn became yet another metaphoric symbol for both of us. The barn became representative of our grief journey.
In the early days, after loosing Jude, the barn stood strong and empowering. Much like our grief, it’s foundation firmly planted and overpowering. The strong wooden plank walls, tightly nailed together, preventing any light from entering. Each window, each door, firmly closed; preventing anything or anyone from entering it. Much like our grief, the bold colours of the barn were familiarly standard to those on the outside, but overwhelming to those on the inside.
As the morning wave to Jude turned into an evening goodnight kiss; day in and day out, we bore witness to the slow deterioration of the barn. The tightly nailed walls made of wooden planks began to loosen, letting in slivers of light. The window and door panes that once stood tightly shut, flew open allowing birds and other creatures of nature to curiously explore the secrets of its inside. The bright and bold red that once represented it’s standard presence, faded – a sign that it’s once highly regarded power, no longer held it’s position.
As the barn changed, so did we in our grief journey. We were looking around us seeing what once was an overwhelming, strong presence of grief, change.
Would our grief extend into the winter? Probably.
Much like the barn, the foundation and beams of our grief remain firmly planted in our hearts over the loss of our sweet Jude. The windows and doors into our hearts may have loosened and allowed in the light and love of those around us. The walls that we initially nailed up firmly to protect our hearts from any further breakage may have fallen down piece by piece, but the pain remains. The foundation and beams remain.
The winter may be harsh. The wind, rain and snow may weather it down, chipping away at it’s strong grip, but we don’t know exactly when or if it will ever collapse.
By definition, foundation is an underlying basis or principle for something. It’s built with the intention not to be destroyed. The foundation of our grief is our love for Jude. Built with the intention not to ever be destroyed.