The endlessly broken car. The frantic to do list. The f-bombing teenager.
Backache. Weight gain. Lice. Lyme.
This. Is. Nothing.
Thank God I know and recognize this nothing and more, am filled with gratitude for it. What a blessing. I am so, so grateful for my sassy teen. The conversations with my littles while combing through licey locks are always interesting. My body, in all its shapes and forms, illnesses and aches, is here, working as hard as it can, feeding my family and caring for my homestead --and it is healing. My to-do list has great, exciting, reasons to keep me running around frantic.
This week, two nearby strangers will put their babies in the ground. Two small towns with two great tragedies. These two strangers have affected me, even with my news media boycott, because they have impacted people I love. Friends with my friends and my childhood community, close to my sisters-in-law, school-mates with my niece and nephew. The loss these families, and their communities, are holding is bottomless.
I touched the edge of this emptiness once. I hope and pray fervently, with every cell, that I never touch it again. It is vast. An empty, roaring, dreadful, power. My parenting lapsed for a moment. It is easy now to say, hey, I'm human-- but then, I don't know. I was sure the ocean had swallowed her. I screamed, this scream that exists in a world between, through the ocean, to the ocean, with the ocean-- connecting with a world of screams, chorusing with separated mothers around the world. Ancient, archetypal. . . endless.
My friends ran the beach in all directions, my friends-- holding me with tears as I screamed. My baby was alive and well. I will never stop being thankful for it and being awed by that narrowly avoided fate. We all avoided great tragedy that day, but I have never been, nor would want to be, the same.
I forcefully choose to live life as fearlessly as I can. My baby girl, now 8, swims in my brother's pool, in ocean waters, mountain rivers and at her grandparents camp. She's not a great swimmer, and I worry. But I refuse to live fearfully. I let them all adventure, my wild children. 4 wheeling, hunting, skiing and snowboarding-- experiencing deepens us, makes us-- and sometimes destroys us.
We must choose to LIVE, while we are here. We must flip off our worries and fears and dive in. Comments like "an avoidable tragedy" or "was anyone watching" or "those things are so dangerous-- I would never let my child . . . " are not only unhelpful and shaming, they speak to a culture with its head in the sand. Shall we keep our anxious, fear-ridden, selves in a bomb proof home eating survival food with a high shelf life?
The truth is, sometimes life just deals us a wicked hard hand. These families will find a foothold in the depths of their loss-- and they will steady. They will do this for their other children, if not for themselves.
As we live it and feel it, here in this earth-plane, goodbye feels definite and resolute. Too often, goodbye catches us unprepared. But worry and fear are the opposite of its message-- instead reach out. Reach out to live fully and without regret-- do what you love, and encourage your children to do the same. Swim, 4-wheel, fly, and walk in the forest. Yes, understand and connect with the devastation --or with the desperation in the case of Central America-- and keep judgment in check. Especially, though, especially, wake each day and look around at your loved ones. Embrace the opportunity, each day, to BE better, BE healthier, BE happier, and Be MORE filled with LOVE. And tell your kids, spouse, family and strangers, that you love them and wish them well. And remember that separation is illusion, if it helps.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
-- mary elizabeth frye