looking through me

Tag: love

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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too much

The headlines are maddening. New—but not—every day. Shootings. Bombings. Protests. Finger pointing. Name calling. Scandals. Broken Promises. Natural Disasters. Wars and rumors of wars.

Even as I process the details I feel a little less shocked than I was by the last fill-in-the-blank atrocity.

I feel my heart hardening. Because how can I care about all of it? There’s simply too much. The scope is too big to swallow. The pain is too great to comprehend. It’s easier to look away.

Then I remember why I have to care.

I Skype with my long-distance nieces. I see the older one’s art projects and hear about soccer. I watch the younger one crawl for the first time.

I spend an evening with my local niece and nephew. I play make believe and Zingo. I throw paper airplanes and read stories. I give good night hugs and kisses.

And love roughs up my calloused heart.

Looking into the eyes of my brothers’ children I remember statistics are more than numbers. They have faces and names.

I check on sleeping children tucked soundly in suburban beds, and I think of how many children aren’t growing up in a safe place be it their home, their city, their country or their refugee camp.

The death tolls rattled off by the media rip un-mendable holes in families and communities whether it’s half a block from me or half a world away. And that doesn’t go away with the news cycle.

So . . . I listen and learn. I choke on the hatred and horror, but I don’t turn away.


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