looking through me

Tag: emotions

sounds of ordinary

I listen to the machine we’ve affectionately nicknamed Bessie hum in the warehouse running casters through durability tests. I fill a sticky note with reminders. I rewrite my workflow for the month on the white board.

I slip into the rhythm of a Tuesday.

The monotonous clank of a machine and the repetition of standard tasks soothes the restlessness inside me. The steady beat drums the not-quite-right feelings back into line. And my soul falls into step.

Muffled voices from the conference room rise behind me, then dissolve into laughter. The tension in my shoulders relaxes with their release.

It’s hard to pin the tail on the unease within me, and it takes the ordinary to rip off the blindfold and reveal the good in the regular.

In this month of clashing expectations and uncomfortable firsts, it’s easy for me to be sidetracked by irrelevancies. There’s too much to take in, too much to do, too much to grieve, too much to process. Overwhelmed by the excess, I find a haven in the constants: the sunrise, the daily commute, the first sip of coffee in a quiet office, the emails to be written, the meals to be eaten.

There—in the groove of the commonplace—is room to embrace the choice to love, to listen, to be present . . . no matter how hard and fast the moments press in.

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pre-thanksgiving . . . grief and gratitude

It’s November and the weather is catching up to the season. With the flip of the calendar and the chill in the air, my thoughts drift toward the holidays.

At work I write copy for our Christmas campaign with a sense of relief that I can skip ahead to December. I’ve never been excited to rush through the eleventh month to get to the twelfth month—not once. I fight the too-early arrival of Christmas each year . . .

But today I welcomed it.

Because when I picture my family we are gathered around my grandparents’ dining room table on the last Thursday of November. And I’m unable to imagine my favorite day without my grandma. It’s been years since she candied the yams or we celebrated at their house; but even as our traditions morphed, we were together. This year we’ll be missing our matriarch, and I can’t wrap my heart around the hole.

Maybe it would be easier if we’d had a holiday or two to practice being present in her absence, but we haven’t. Our first big family day since she stepped heavenward will be Thanksgiving. And the incongruity of gratitude and loss hounds me.

Each day of this new normal I notice more ways I miss Grandma: her smile, her grace, her one-liners, her joy, her ability to temper our rough edges with a look, a word or simply her presence. She was the filter through whom we saw one another. I am grateful. And I grieve.

So I relish the temperature change and the crisp pleasure of today—laden with memories of the past—as I put off the future. The griefs will arrive in due time; they can neither be rushed nor postponed.

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