Tag Archives: sorrow

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.

Trigger Warning: Contains Profanity…

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I told myself I’d write a blog post today. And all I can think about is my dear friend’s father, who is dying. Less than a month and the stupid tumor has stupidly doubled and is stupidly squatting all over his pancreas squishing the life and all possibility of treatment out of him.

And I am remembering when my Dad died, suddenly, with a phone call and a word to finalize it. After eight years I can watch the actions of the day with something solid and apathy-like in front of me acting as a filter. And they are all there, this family. I remember them standing next to us in the room, exclaiming out loud when we told them, crying with us seamlessly as one family.

I remember this man’s daughter coming to me in my backyard and saying the only thing in the whole week that was any help at all. “What the fuck?” she said. Exactly. What the fuck.

And my siblings are driving up right now, managers notified, half days taken. Our only plan is to walk in and stand with them because we have been stood with.

I find myself wondering how different it is, watching it happen, not knowing exactly how many days you will have to live in this limbo. When my Dad died the world stopped. The suddenness of it was gratifying to my grief. And the whole church showed up at the memorial. How gratifying that was. It was as it should be. The world should mourn with me.

I know what they will go through. Yet, I wonder at what they are going through. I want to bear witness to the life. I want to bear witness to the grief. I want to bear witness to the voice of Mary in me that cries, “If you had been here, Lord!”

And I bear witness to Jesus’ own tears. Because that is how the goodness of God was proven to me in that week. He wept. When my Dad died Jesus wept. There was no trite pat on my head. There was no image of a “Footprints” meme impressed into my brain. Jesus wept. He was with me.

Even now, Jesus nods with my husband when he says, “This is fucked.” Yes, fucked up. This isn’t how it was supposed to be at all.

Even though Jesus knows better than anyone that the resurrection is coming, that Lazarus will be walking out of that tomb in two hot minutes, still he weeps.

What the fuck? This isn’t how it was supposed to be at all.

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.

As I Watched the Fire…

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It was a crazy weekend. We bought the last of the furniture, which means my apartment now smells like Swedish pine and lingonberry.

After a month of sleeping on the floor, my son got his bunk bed and after a year and a half in boxes I got a little cabinet for all my art supplies. Thus, the weekend was full of detailing the growing list of bunk bed rules and unpacking beautiful things.

I opened the box of all the sketchbooks I’ve had since junior high. I took out the files containing my years of illustrations for the Sunday school curriculum and the children’s reader I did. And I discovered the stack of poems I wrote in the year after my Dad died.

I don’t write much poetry, but I get on kicks. I enjoy their density. I find I use them when my feelings are most compact and undefinable, much like those little foam creatures confined to capsules and awaiting bath time.

In this analogy, poetry would be the warm bath that releases you, opens you up and details your edges.

So, here is a dense little piece I had forgotten about. It reminds me well of that seeming interminable time. If you’ve ever experienced sorrow, I’m sure you will understand.

“As I Watched the Fire”

Oh! If I had a power tonight it would be this,
To send out my sorrow into the flames,
To lick and burn some other chimney,
Save my throat,
To consume some other material,
Save my spirit.
Then, I would watch it burn down to its predictable end,
To finish and be done, once and for all,
Left cold after its long hot work.
And all the concentrated efforts of my sorrow’s journey,
Would be accomplished in one short evening,
As I watched the fire.