But grief is, as I have become accustomed to saying, weird. It's sneaking up on you or hiding from you or letting you know that it's waiting patiently in the next room for you to come visit it-- not forcing itself, just waiting.
Today is gorgeous.
My husband is tending to his new obsession: the grass. I am about to clean my dream house. We haven't turned on heat or air conditioning in two weeks-- I am excited about the next electric bill (you should know that for the last couple of years, Don and I have had a little competition to see how long we could go without turning on heating/AC at the intro to each season. The world of Facebook has expanded said competition to some other
At any rate, life, as they say, does go on.
I kind of hate when people say that.
But it's just true.
I had one of those eye-opening moments that just sort of hits you out of nowhere yesterday morning-- that phrase just came alive for me.
I was walking toward my classroom and one of my most precious students was walking toward me (I'll call her "M"). She's this beautiful, willowy girl-- all linen and graham crackers and she is the kind of beautiful that does not have a clue about it. Don't you love that kind of beautiful? She's so kind to her friends-- she is mild and peaceable, and she looks like she just stepped out of a catalog, but she is completely unaware that she is so pretty, so she is totally unaffected and humble. She is, truly, a breath of fresh air.
And she feels things deeply. She and another of my favorites came to Ben's funeral last year-- the funeral was packed with people and I was medicated so I don't remember everyone, but I do remember my students in those lines of precious people (oh Ben, did you see all the people who came to honor your brief flash of a life? Did you see that the church was packed and people who had never held you wept with us over your goodbye?). Anyway, both of those two girls were so gentle with me-- so red-eyed and anxious to help.
But when this sweet girl came up to me yesterday, I could see new grief in her eyes. Our community lost two fantastic young people a week ago Thursday. It's stunning in its sadness. Outstanding students, this brother and sister were on their way to school when they were involved in a car accident. They weren't doing anything wrong-- maybe driving too fast, but no drinking, texting, knocking over mailboxes with a baseball bat. The boy was a recent Eagle Scout and his sister has won the county science fair for the last three years in a row. He had been accepted to Georgia Tech and she was headed, from what I understand, to a prestigious Magnet school for Mathematics and Sciences. They were the only two children of their parents.
Oh my God in heaven, how do you live with such grief? These parents have been so heavy on my heart-- will you pray for them? Ah, Lord, they need prayer. I have no idea what to ask for-- I only pray what I prayed for myself most often in the days after my different loss: "Help."
I asked M how she was doing and she winced a little and I immediately thought of her friend (the brother had been a senior and an active member of the band-- if there was ever a reason to put your child in band, outside the pure goodness of being IN music, the tightly knit community it provides for your child could be reason number one)-- for a moment, I had forgotten, but she hadn't. I realized, as I asked it, that of course she was not alright.
She told me that she was okay but that it was weird-- that she wants to be "normal" but she's not done grieving the loss of her friend (plus, I think it just freaks teenagers out when someone their age is suddenly taken from them-- that's so outside the realm of possibility for them. For all of us, I think, but especially for them, in the bloom of life). She said that it was just kind of...weird... how people are just sort of going on with things. "He was in my section in band and yesterday, someone had already moved to his chair. It bothered me for some reason. I was all, that's Karl's chair. Are we already forgetting him?? I mean, I guess I know that life sort of moves on, but it doesn't feel right yet...."
She's so healthy.
And are there any words to fix loss?
And those parents are nowhere near moving on yet, but his peers have to. They just do. They have final AP exams and summer jobs to get in place. They are anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters (congrats to JE for your acceptance into UGA-- that's a BIG, BIG deal). They are getting sentimental about their soon-to-be alma mater. They're shrugging off their early youth and moving into young adulthood.
Life goes on, with or without all of the people who walked this way with us for any length of time.
Today is beautiful. My husband is sewing grass seeds where the earth was tilled up during our remodel and old daffodils are popping up in unusal places-- we thought they were dead, but they were just misplaced. Or maybe old seeds were just rejuvenated, if things work like that. But there is a newness, this spring.
It's day three-- 25 days until the first anniversary of my son's birth and death-- of a month I have dreaded all year, and how lucky am I that is a month so full of rebirth? It is the month where we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and King-- where we drape the cross in mourning cloths while we remember the days his body spent in the tomb, and on the third day we remember that this is not all there is-- that death is not the period on the sentence, that He has conquered the grave and there is nothing to fear. That He came to lift my son to His bosom and I can trust Him that He held and comforted Him because He knew how weird physical death is...because He has been there. That His Spirit comforted my wounded mother's heart because He had a mother and He knew her grief. That He did not disappear into the black beyond, but instead burst forth into majestic, permanent Spring. Death lives here only-- there is none of it in Heaven.
Bless the Lord, O my soul-- I am commanding you to do it, soul-- for He is the author of life. Bless His holy name.