As I crossed the bridge and saw the reddish-brown water from bank to swollen bank and the river trees' heads bobbing above the water and the new sandbars poking through the gentle waves as new sediment settles from the stronger, yet temporary, current, I thought of Josie's words - that great joy and great sadness can coexist.
On the heels of my son's graduation, where family and friends have showered him with praise and well wishes, my heart swells from bank to bank with admiration and gratefulness. My son is so happy, so it is easy to be happy for him, to be proud of him, to celebrate all of the accomplishments for which he has worked so hard. I ran head long into celebration and away from the black hole of grief that has attached itself to my heels like the shadow of Peter Pan. Each time it grabbed at my feet, I skipped ahead or drew a deeper breathe and forced myself to stay on the banks of happy.
Today, however, my old friend found me in the midst of our administration meeting. We were asked to write down four things of which we are proud or that we had helped put into motion and my throat tightened, that terrible sick feeling that makes you certain the bottom of your gut will soon turn inside out. I couldn't think, and I wanted desperately to run out of the room. Just let me fall apart. I have accomplished nothing. The rest of the thoughts were just as tormenting, and I am writing to try to ease the swell, to quash the current so the river trees don't drown, aren't swept away by the mad rush of watery grief.
We had a medical professional tell us over a week ago that in time, Taylor would not be our first thought as we woke. That soon we might not remember her until mid-day and then somedays we might not think of her at all. He had the absolute best intentions. His care to our medical needs, sincere. People don't know what to say, and they desperately want us to be who we were; they don't want to keep looking at us just floating with our heads barely above the water. I don't know how to make them feel better.
I think they are missing the contrast; I think our great joy is - our roots run deep enough or our lives have seen enough floods - that we are not overrun by a torrent of grief that will come - early in the morning, late at night and sometimes right in the middle of meeting that has no relation to our girl at all. Our accomplishment is our heads are floating above the torrent - barely or in celebration.
As I re-read this - I am fearful the whirlpool of thoughts spilled on the page offer more confusion than they do conclusion. I am sorry it's a wrestling match.
There's a day when there will be no more pain, no more night, no more tears and there's a life to seek, an abundant life, until that day. In the quietest moments, my heart still whispers these truths to me.
So I sat and watched the rose petals dance across the ground yards from the place where the world ended and miles from the place where my world moves on. And I didn't fall apart. I still want to - but I wan't. My roots run deep - allowing great joy and great sadness to wash over me and run past me.