looking through me

bruising season

The sunrise was gorgeous. The clouds, the shadows, the lights, the vibrancy of the colors. A sight that takes my breath away and sends me searching for words, so I don’t lose the scene.

Today? Not so much.

I looked at it. I acknowledged its beauty. And I kept going. There was no pause, no fear of forgetting . . . no awe. As though it wasn’t enough.

For days my mind’s been spinning and getting nowhere, but being outside tends to settle it. So as the morning waned, I took a walk.

The clouds were still impressive. A Monarch butterfly floated by on the song of unseen birds. The breeze was lovely. It was the perfect fall mix of cool air and warm sun. I looked for, but didn’t see, the great blue heron that’s been hanging out by the creek this week. I crunched through dry sycamore leaves.

I saw it all. I heard it. I felt it.

But I didn’t.

Instead, a sensation rippled across my shoulders and pounded on the inside of my rib cage as though my skin couldn’t contain me.

My focus is fragmented. My breathing is shallow. Tears threaten.

Why? What is different about today? What knocked my soul off center and took the rest of me with it?

Nothing. And everything.

I’m just not okay. All the things—Dad’s cancer, friends’ struggles, disturbing headlines—assault me. They use my mind as a trampoline and my heart as a punching bag.

It’s little surprise that some days the most stunning sunrise can’t loose the vise holding my lungs. And sometimes the perfect walk can’t perfect the day.

So in this bruising season, I press into the tender places and let the twinges remind me that okay—and not okay—comes in many shades.

The internal hues of today are a little darker than the external ones. I feel out of place in my own skin, in my own life. But admitting the disconnect helps balance the colors. The saturation point of my soul shifts.

My “not okay” is okay enough for today.

 


Note: I don’t post in real time, so this was written on Friday, November 3. That was two days before my dad’s symptoms returned with a vengeance. After four nights in the hospital and five nights (and counting) in a skilled nursing facility doing rehab, the colors of “okay” and “not okay” are more blurred than ever. Many questions and unknowns remain in this season. And still, God is good today and every day.  

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calendar alerts

Certain alerts on my calendar repeat every year—so I don’t forget—but they aren’t birthdays. They’re anniversaries of deaths. And when they pop up, a spectrum of emotions surges through me.

Sometimes they remind me of people I will never stop missing, and sometimes they remind me that people I love are awash in the residual waves of grief a year or two or seven or fifteen after the physical loss of someone deeply loved.

Dates matter. I was raised by parents who made remembering their engagement and wedding anniversaries monthly competitions. They wished my brothers and me “happy monthday” each and every month that wasn’t our actual birthday. And decades down the road, they still do.

Remembering matters. Celebrating matters. Grieving matters. Because loving matters.

So when an alert pops up for a death date on my calendar, I know it’s an opportunity to mail a note or make a phone call or send a text or email. But even when I stay silent and fail to reach out, I stare at the calendar and try again to wrap my thoughts around how life continues with heartrending voids.

And I realize what an honor it is to remember. What a privilege it is to speak presence into absence. What a gift it is to know and be known.

What a treasure it is to walk through joy and sorrow together every day . . . whether my calendar reminds me to or not.

 

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