The world has caved in.
The worst has happened.
And I’m still here.
Yesterday marked three weeks since my father passed away. And if it’s even possible, I hurt worse as of today than I did then.
I’ve had three weeks to stew on everything and yet I haven’t even had the chance to catch my breath. It was a week ago that the tears poured down my face on a car ride home, when the sky turned the clouds pink and I realized how much I missed my father.
And that I could never tell him such a thing.
The edges of the leaves are beginning to turn yellow, the grass is browning, and we are all nearly reminded that death is beautiful. Even though it isn’t always.
We went to the ocean yesterday, the shores we all used to visit collectively as a family, and I flicked off my flip flops and carried them laced between my fingers as I walked barefoot on the boardwalk the way I used to.
It was the way the smooth, wooden planks were almost too warm on the bottoms of my feet. The way the sand stuck between my toes pricked my feet, and the sound from the gulls floating on invisible ribbons of air.
It was a hurricane of memories, that hurt and healed at the same time.
It was the pain and comfort of knowing that time keeps going, and we have no choice but to be beholden to it.
It’s too soon for lessons. I haven’t grieved enough.
One moment, I couldn’t breathe because I was watching the elderly ladies in their wheelchairs as they made their way down the boardwalk, pushed by a caregiver, and I realized that one day, I’ll be old, too. And it will seem that these days I am working so hard to appreciate now after all that has happened were gone any way in the blink of an all too fast, unseen eye.
Nothing we can do stops the sand from running out in the hourglass, the thread from unspooling. And yet, my aching heart fights against the currents of grief to find the meaning and realness in each day. Which is maybe why it hurts. The flesh and the spirit are at war. They dance around each other sadistically and methodically.
The flesh says all is for naught, it’s no use. The flesh says that we all end up as dust, committed again to the earth, so what is the point, really, but to live for our own fleeting pleasure and selfishness?
While the spirit meanwhile says that we are made for, and of greater things. That we never really control the outcome even when we think that we do, so we should just accept what has been and what will be, before it even gets here. We merely get to make peace and try not to stand in its way.
And somewhere in there, the memory of my time growing up punctures through everything that is spinning on a loop. Memories I want to crawl inside of and rest in.
The way the rain drops dripped from the barn roof on gray, summer days, and pooled into a tin basin on the ground. The way the chickens huddled in the beams across the ceiling, beads of rain collecting at the end of their feathers as they hid.
The way I could always look out in the yard, and somewhere, dad would be walking. Watching. Assessing. The grass, the shrubs, the limbs of the trees. The state of things.
Before long, I’m snapped out of those memories, and my insides are screaming. Because they’re all over. Because we are walking pods of waking dust. Every one of us. Every president, every blue collar worker. All of us. We are flesh, and what and who’s around us are the negative space that makes up our lives and maybe that’s the best that we can hope for.
I turn sour. Will I grow bitter towards everything else that’s good?
Or will I let it heal me?
Right now, I rage and I storm. But flowers and trees grow after storms. Seeds that are planted in upheaved, raw Earth transform. I know that in pain, and suffering, there is glory. There is eventually life. After transition.
Now is the time in which I decide.
This is when the devil reminds me, Did God REALLY say?
That our bond is unbreakable, that I would never be snatched from his hand? Who’s am I? Who am I?
Now is the time that I ask, while I wait. The waiting isn’t easy. The transition is hell. It can’t be assuaged by pretty words. It cannot be moved. It has to happen.
That’s how we know we are still alive.