Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost, 1923
Maybe you feel that way, too. Sometimes, it is enough that we didn't let the day and all its sadness, or frustrations, or failures win. The details remain less important than the fact that we are still upright, or at least we were until we climbed into our favorite t-shirts and then beneath our most cherished cover.
What I used to believe I could never do, I am practicing. Most days and for the majority of my existence, my entire life is this huge plate of spaghetti - every event connected to every other event. I love it that way; the connections miraculously bring people who may live a hundred miles apart next to each other. When I was a girl, I used to sit on the kitchen cabinet telling my mother the entirety of the day from start to finish and without missing a single connection. The woman is a saint.
However, when I allow grief to intersect with the present, the present suffers. So, grief has a box.
We had a golden mix-breed Collie when my sister and I were in high school and college. We were fairly certain Lady, the dog, was half coyote and half Collie because she owned a smart shrewdness. Famously and without shame, Lady, when being ignored, would sidle up to your chair or the edge of the couch, take her wet nose and nudge your hand over and over again until it moved off the arm of the couch. She would duck her head quickly or raise her nose so your hand would land gently on her head. If she could have said, "Commence patting," she would have, but since she had such keen intelligence she knew you knew the drill. Persistent, lady insisted you stroke her head; she would not cease her antics until you did. It was always easier to just succumb.
Grief can be like that. I can put it way, but something else will open the box. I'll have to deal with it before I can put it away again.
Waking up sad exists. Though foreign to us prior to Taylor being killed by a drunk driver, the reality occurs far more often than we like. Sometimes we wake up and the first thought we know is - we won't hear her voice, again today. Joey and i don't really talk about it; words won't make it better or worse. Instead we hold hands more often in the morning as we wait for the sleep that covered us to lift.
I went to bed last night knowing a six year old girl (who I do not know) lay in critical condition after being transported to the hospital unconscious and not breathing. I woke up wanting to know and not wanting to know her status. In one instant, the box is opened and the noises, and the silence, and the smells, and the ambush of information all come rushing into my senses. Reports that her condition is unchanged continued to open the box. throughout the day. Prayers for her mama helped me put grief back in the box, but by mid-afternoon, I had little physical strength left to keep lifting and closing.
My phone reminded me I have an interview. A friend's daughter is in a Leadership class and must interview five women in leadership positions. She asked me five or six questions and ended with this one: "What's your greatest accomplishment?"
I didn't really pause.
"I raise great kids. Joey and I are blessed; God's hand has been in it. It is the hardest job I have ever had and the easiest. Showing up every day for Taylor and Wade is a piece of cake - until showing up means doing something hard, like watching them have to hurt, or live through an injustice, or struggle with a relationship. As a parent you hate to see your kids hurt, but you know you are doing them a greater favor by allowing them to grow the muscles to deal with the hurt."
I didn't know what Anna's questions would be - but oh how much I enjoyed answering that one. No job, no degree, no innovation will ever match the wondrous miracle of being a parent.
I drove home in the sunshine we have missed so much this week and found a package on my doorstep. Joey and I made new friends in Florida this spring break, friends who were gracious enough to ask us to tell them about Taylor. It began just as small talk - sharing the details of our families - When we mentioned we had lost our oldest, Marcie (and crew) asked us to tell them more about Taylor. The ask was so very kind.
Marcie's return address marked the corner of the box, and I opened it to find this beautiful memory stone with my girl's picture and my cousin's design for #GOLIGHTHEWORLD.
That other box burst and grief spilled, Done lifting and closing, I left the box open.
My kitchen floor is accustomed to me and together we watched the afternoon sunlight spill across the fresh green of April's rain in my backyard. I walked outside and placed the stone next to the pansies. The kindness of a new friend brought Frost's words to my mind...
"..nature's first green is gold....
so dawn goes down to day....
nothing gold can stay...."
Frost's melancholy ending lingered in my thoughts but didn't have the final word. As I thought about the red-headed spark that I miss so much, and I cried for another day without her, her snarky little voice popped into my head with the ring of playful sass and condescension....
"It's pretty gold up here Mother."
only and always when she was put out, impatient or disgusted with me
--- oh but such the light.
Thank you, Anna.
Thank you, Marcie. See you at the beach. :)
2 Corinthians 5:1