With the chatter of Spanish-speaking packers and the clatter of dishes, our belongings and memories are moving into cardboard boxes while I retreat to my computer to search my way through everything that’s been happening in my life and what I’ve learned.
Hurricane Flo left us with water-soaked walls and some mold, so we’ll get a new interior for most of our home. Drywall, insulation and flooring will grace the curb of the cul de sac while carpenters build us some new memories along with new dust and confusion.
“What next?” I have to ask. When will the challenges stop?
Challenges is a better word for tribulations, don’t you think? They never will stop. Stop? That’s an illusion, much like closure. We really weren’t born to stop. Maybe that’s why death is still a shock, no matter the age, no matter the circumstance.
Sometimes we are so fixed on running away from death that we forget about life. Yesterday, I saw more than 600 people, most of them kids, at our Fall Festival. We lined up our cars for a Trunk or Treat. I saw kids of all shapes and sizes, and all ages playing games, and getting candy in the church parking lot. Mixed in the group were kids pushing walkers, kids battling cancer, and kids who had mental and physical challenges. And no one cared.
It just didn’t matter that some kids couldn’t kick a ball six feet. Yesterday was a celebration of life. Life mattered to those kids. They didn’t just see life for what it could be, they see life for today. Such a powerful force, the belief in today and the promise of tomorrow.
I know there is evil in the world, I see sin daily. I cry on the corner like a prophet reminding us the end is near. But here’s the thing, the end may be near, but God is closer.
How do I know?
I saw God in the eyes of the little boy pushing his walker from car trunk to truck bed. I saw the boy with cancer kicking a soccer ball until every other kid had left. And I saw God in the smile of the girl with Down’s Syndrome and the joy in her laugh as she reached in the bucket and came out with a hand full of fun-sized candy. After all, fun-size candy is only fun when there’s more than one, right?
So today I pick up pictures, I carry his ashes, I store my gifted clothes. I smell the memories when my son and I rode the ski lift together and he threatened to put me in the old folk’s home because I couldn’t put on my own gloves. And I feel the tools he carried on his belt at work. I suppose it makes me cry and just a little sad, but not much.
Because yesterday I saw hope. Yesterday, I smelled promise in the chowder and chili cook off. And I felt life as I high-fived the five-year-old who kicked her ball into the goal.
Today is what I am left with. It’s all we have. Yesterday? History that’s been traveled through. Tomorrow? Another challenge; they just won’t stop. So today, I am surrounded by more than a language I should have mastered in high school, and rolls of dust behind my night stand I should have swept out sometime after high school.
Today I am surrounded by my wife’s smile that shouts of familiarity. We’ve been doing this since we were twenty. We’ve been dealing with loss, with moves, with card board boxes and dusty picture frames. And we are still here and we are still at it. Life—bring it. Death—I’m not waiting for it.
Today I am looking for who can I enrich, just like those kids from yesterday. Who will be better because they met me, because I smiled, because I stopped to help? I hope it will be you.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.