Tag Archives: sadness

Two Illustrations from Nature…

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It is the weekend my Dad died nine years ago. It is the week a dear friend died one year ago. A coworker just had a miscarriage. A close friend is going through a divorce.

Illustration number one: This week I was at a work retreat up the coast. There was pine, dry grass, and dirt that acts like chalk on your shoes. The sunrise was obscured by a heavy fog being blown over the hill. As I climbed the hill I stepped into a copse of pine. I turned my head into the breeze to catch the wind in my ears and I caught another sound. It was so loud I looked around for what could cause this “pat pat pat”. Droplets had formed on the tip of every needle of every pine. I thought of the fog, how like grief, heavy, pervasive, and obscuring the view at three feet. And I thought of the trees, every day reaching out and into; by will and persistence making tangible something good and life-giving, watering themselves.

Illustration number two: Today we drove down the coast. We stopped just south of Linda Mar at a battery held aloft still by a truculent chunk of granite. High above the water and rocks, the walkway around seemed to drop out of sight with a certainty that made me hold my three-year-old’s hand tighter. Surely it would mean death to ever step past that edge. And yet, as we walked closer, we were surprised to find slopes, not gentle, but like many things in life, surprisingly survivable.

 

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Losing it in the Lyft…

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He was a good friend. He was my pastor. He was my father’s best friend. He was my best friend’s father. All week long I’ve been trying to come up with connections that might justify my grief.

He died last Friday, the day of that last post, the one where I wonder how long it would be.

We went over on Saturday morning. I was expecting to lose it, to fall apart the moment I saw their faces, the “survived by”. But my emotions shunted to my core. I remembered much, was remembering much, but could feel nothing.

And there were kids and there was work and there were meals and there was school. By Wednesday morning the feelings began creeping back into my gut. I cracked at Mom’s group for a moment, but there was a bus ride and a school pickup and homework. And then I had to leave for a team building event.

I left the babies and the husband in the middle of dinner and began to walk. I was going to meet a new coworker to share a lyft to our event. The weather was the foggy drizzle in which San Francisco specializes. It was an empathetic touch I appreciated of my city. The sidewalk and I understood each other for every step of the six blocks.

I reached the house and rang the bell on the address. The gate buzzed and I pushed through, but I failed to catch the door before the buzzer stopped. I tried it and realized that I was trapped between the gate and the door. I took out my phone only to learn that I don’t have my new coworker’s phone number. And just like that I was forced to be still.

I waited for someone to come looking for me and then I began texting other coworkers trying to find the phone number. But I was trapped in that four square feet too long. I broke.

Yes, friends, this is when I broke.

So, now, I’m sobbing in my new coworker’s entryway, trying to contain myself, and climbing into a lyft, my first lyft, my very first lyft ride ever.

“Oh, you’re sniffling,” the lyft driver says, “I hope you are not getting a cold.”

“No,” I say, “I’m just sad.”

At which point I break down sob-heaving against the window pane.

But then it gets worse because, yes, it turns out my new coworker requested a lyft line, which is like a carpool. And to my quivering horror we stop and pick up someone else, this adorable young Asian girl who has no idea into what she is stepping.

So, now there are three people in the lyft respectfully gazing out their windows and I am in the back sobbing quietly into the glass.

Because I stood still. And it caught up to me. And I’m so very very sorry.

Damn Lies…

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Two days ago I wrote about how big God was. I wrote a sentence about God being big enough to find joy in giving a tired mother her morning cup of coffee while waking up beside a beloved son dealing with the aftermath of addiction.

I wrote the coffee part thinking about a friend who sends out pictures of her frothy cups regularly. She’s far away now, but the pictures make me remember our mornings together. Yesterday this friend texted us, her coffee girls, that her brother did not wake up to deal with the aftermath of his addiction.

I don’t know what form his addiction took, but it doesn’t seem to me that there is a sin as old as this one, the belief that something good is being withheld from you, that those who love you most don’t understand. The belief that you will take, ingest, and be wise.

How bodily this form of lie, how physically it works. Its consequences are old and the same.

Consequences come last and so I think its easy to confuse that they are given us in response. It can make your loving Father seem judgmental or spiteful. But the consequences were always there first. The consequences are what necessitated the prohibition in the first place.

I’m so sorry, friend.

Ruby Bridges Part 1…

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The other day my son came home from school and told me they read The Story of Ruby Bridges.

“Who was the president guy again?” he asked.

Now, I am notoriously horrible with presidents. Really bad, so I was like, “Well, let’s look it up.”

Seconds later I’m reading the story of Ruby Bridges on Wikipedia.

And then, I start bawling like a baby.

It had been an emotional day and I just totally lost it.

And it felt fantastic!

“Why are you reading it in that strange voice?” my son asks.

I continue reading in half choked sobs.

“Mom, stop it,” he pushes me a little.

I stop reading and just cry a little.

“Mom!” he shakes my shoulders.

“Let me cry!” I say, “It’s terrible and beautiful. I’m sad and I’m gonna cry.”

It was releasing. In a little part, for just a moment, I felt the beauty of humanity’s best and the sadness of our worst. I hadn’t cried in so long it felt fantastic!

I tried recounting my experience to my husband.

“I’m sorry you had such a bad afternoon,” he says.

I blinked. Bad? The whole crying thing was the highlight of my day.

And then I remembered my son’s response.

So, in short, I’m glad I’m a woman.

The Daily Exercise…

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I saw a daughter walking with her mother. Their haircuts were the same, though one was white and one was black. The face under the white hair was confused, lost in trying to find the significance of their actions here on the street in the sunny afternoon. Her daughter pulled her on, the tension visible in her face and the tautness of their two arms meeting over the “v” of space between them.

I recognized the face of the daughter, it was the one I make when my options are out and toddlers must tag along and their short legs become, somehow, a personal insult. I recognized duty born of love, duty that beats desire every day of the week. I recognized the conflict in the daughter’s face between impatience and requirement. There was no space for selfishness in this walk.

I saw how easy it would be to be impatient with someone who doesn’t understand, can’t understand. I saw how much effort it must take to keep latch over her tongue to prevent herself from voicing an unreasonable frustration to an unreasonable mind.

It was a sad picture. And it was a beautiful picture.

I thought about the long space of time before the daughter’s memories had ever begun, when she had been the one pulled against resistance, not understanding why they had to leave her pretty game, not comprehending the patience with which her mother led her.

And now it was the daughter’s turn to spend love on a mind that wouldn’t remember. It was the daughter’s turn to be unable and sometimes unwilling to explain again why it is important to keep the old legs moving, the aged heart pumping. The same street where mother learned was now daughter’s space to trust in the importance of this relationship.

There’s a reason. And when she can’t immediately remember it she trusts. It’s there, she found it once and when she has the chance, later, in quiet, in silence, she knows she’ll remember the reason she does all this again.

I wondered if my daughter would ever have to do this for me. I thought I should write about it here and now in case the moment comes and my mind is too lost to discuss it with her.

It’s a sad picture. And it’s a beautiful picture.