growing up, on any given saturday afternoon, my friend lyndsey & i would grab our pens & notebooks & make our way to the lookout tree that hung above the moderately busy road behind my house.
more exciting, i suppose than the cul-de-sac in the front.
we’d sit — excuse me, spy, for hours at a time reporting to each other & our notepads the color of the cars that passed & whether the driver was a boy or a girl.
we’re talking tally marks of highly classified data.
red car girl driver.
it was our way of taking deep breaths, of coping with whatever school year stress lurked in our minds. i imagine we’d run out to the lookout tree whenever there was grief, big or small, that we couldn’t ignore & count the cars & boys & girls.
our way of buying time.
we paid attention (at times maybe a little too much attention) so we could swallow our stress, honor our grief & listen for one car passing at a time.
blue truck boy driver.
& i think of that & i think of now because there’s everyday grief & there’s breaking grief. there’s the dull & steady grief & the sharp & screaming grief
& it’s everywhere.
it’s on our run when ben & i pass a family of four on an afternoon walk, but the dad is circling & screaming at his stiff & vacant teenage son who keeps his head down & walks one foot in front of the other while the daughters trail a few steps behind with the dogs.
it’s at the dollar store with a 93 year-old man in the check-out line who keeps looking over his shoulder to smile at ben & me, tells us he was married for 61 years, how he “loved every single minute of it." it’s the grief of leaving a loaded world between us unsaid. of standing six feet apart on different ends of a covenant.
the grief of holding that space for time passed & the memories that seep through cracks.
white car girl driver.
it’s on instagram, reading about a three year-old little girl with a brain tumor & a 0% chance of survival & how her mom writes about her tender & gentle God.
it’s a shooting in nova scotia, an accident in buffalo, ny.
it’s hearing how my brother-in-law had to hold up the phone to an elderly patient at the hospital as she lay unconscious & her husband, children & grandchildren said their goodbyes.
how they pleaded with jordan — & asked to make sure someone, anyone — held her hand as she passed.
what do you say to your wife, mom, grandma in that moment?
“your husband loves you.”
“mom, mom, it’s me, thank you for raising me.”
“we love you, grandma.”
white car boy driver.
because really, how do we honor the grief — lean into the kind that sprains & splits our heart & eventually manifests itself as all too much?
first, we let it happen. give in.
then, we do what we can.
last night it looked like ben pointing out the window at the silent sky that settled into pinks & purples after a storm. looked like throwing on a blanket & beanie & sandals & following him outside, stepping over the puddle, walking out into the middle of the street & breathing in that post-rain musty sidewalk smell & taking a few deep breaths, watching my neighbor pull into his driveway across the street. throwing up a wave. hugging my blanket tighter. asking ben if he’d want some tea inside.
i can’t remember
i can’t remember
we do what we can.
so many years!
are the morning kisses
or the evenings
or the in betweens?
all i know
is that “thank you” should appear
or like the other month when we drove up to the cottage & i became thoroughly enthralled with watching the geese on the water & their interactions. such funny birds.
why, you ask?
so, just in case
i can’t find
the perfect place --
“thank you, thank you.” (~mary oliver)
grief is no luxury, but what we make of this moment here, is.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.