Today I am both happy and sad. And I’m still trying to figure out how that can be.
My grandfather is dying. He and I were companions on most of the adventures of my childhood. I haven’t seen him in quite some time. His mind is slipping away and he is either too weak to move or too combative to control. As a church, we pleaded with God not for mercy but for peace and strength. All the ones I love wept. I sit in the corner. No tears come. No ability to comfort.
My mother is so strong. She is the guiding rock of this shattering family. Yet even her mask cracks and when she is home, she cries. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a mother’s tears. There is no comfort to give her. I hold her close and she feels so fragile in my arms.
Then the moment passes. We both tuck away our sadness like old clothes shoved in trunks and hidden away in the attic for only spiders to pick through.
We laugh and talk about Gone With the Wind lamps and fish finders. We go about our lives. As if life really is as simple as walking around flea markets and deciding where to eat for dinner. In the course of our meanderings, I will see something and it will make me think of him. And the sadness resurfaces. Only for a second, then I push it down.
That is the tragic way life is. We play at happiness until it becomes real. The pain lingers only for a while. We are all still children who fall and scrape our knees but are soon distracted by ice cream. Huge losses take chunks out of our lives, yet we persevere. People are taken from us but we go on. In the moment, it feels we cannot go on without that laugh and that face and those mannerisms. But we do. We go to sleep each night and get up each morning. We breathe in and out. We go to work and to dinner. And the memories of that person fade until they only pop up on certain anniversaries.
It is sad, yet beautiful. We are resilient. We go on. Despite everything. We are humans. We hold things and people dear although we know the risk. We know that what we gain, we will lose. And that is stupid, but necessary. What is living without love? What is life without death?
Despite my tragic viewpoint on the world, today, I am happy.
You are here. At my side, all day. You make me laugh and entertain me. You fold me in your embrace. You stare at me and randomly tell me I’m beautiful. Not because you feel you should, but because you seem to think it is true and that truth compels you to state it. Because I need to know it.
We curl up in my bed together. Me wrapped in your arms, just as I imagine it on those long, lonely nights when my heart is crying for you. We fall asleep like that. Only for a few minutes but it is enough. I see visions of my future and it is beautiful.
Life is the cliched roller coaster. Sometimes it is terrifying, sometimes comforting. Always moving. Always surging up and then down, stealing your breath away. All we can do is hold on tight and share grins with our fellow passengers. Scream at the top of our lungs and let the rushing wind snatch the tears from our cheeks.