It seems bad news has touched everyone I know and so many of those I don't. Dear friends and mere acquaintances and complete strangers. People I talk to daily and those I will never meet. Hopes destroyed, lives cut short or forever altered. Disease, injury and death. Diagnoses pending and confirmed (god, that one hurt), ongoing treatment, mangled bodies, painful recovery and upcoming surgery. Anger, frustration, denial, miscommunication, dread, rage and grief. They have all torn through my life this week like a vile malevolent wind. Yet none of the news is mine, except by association. It is mine by caring. A painful privilege.
It has been one of those weeks when more than once I have woken up in the dark cold hours of the morning, in that time before the night softens to gray with the coming of dawn. I've lain there shrouded in blankets and blackness, knowing I won't sleep again, wondering about life and fate and meaning. Trying to find the center of things, desperate to regain my balance. Waiting for the familiar slap of the newspaper at the end of the driveway, the sound flooding me with relief that the new day has arrived and the night was not interminable as I had feared.
It has been one of those weeks when I found myself wondering, where is the good? Where are joy and laughter and peace? I think you have to look harder sometimes to find those things. They are not loud and needy. They don't rip at your heart or punch you in the gut, demanding attention. Sometimes the good stuff requires you to sit quietly and wait, to look closely and appreciate its subtlety.
It was there during a phone call with my daughter, who asked what was wrong and why did I sound sad. I told her that people I cared about were hurting. We spoke of other things, but she ended the phone call by saying, "I love you, mommy" and I told her I loved her, too. It was several hours later, in the dark time before dawn, that I realized how long it has been since she called me mommy instead of mom and how very much I had needed to hear it just then.
It was there in the cold wet nose and large brown eyes of my dog when he came in and nudged me earlier this morning, reminding me it was time for his breakfast, that I'd been awake for hours while he slept on, that I'd been writing long enough. And because I looked, I saw it there, the simple unconditional love and the absolute trust that I will take care of him.
It was there in an emailed picture of fresh snow framing a hibiscus blossom that made me smile through the tears. Thank you, Booko. I hope you don't mind that I share it here. Perhaps there are others who would welcome evidence that there is beauty and life to be found in even the most stark landscape.
The good stuff is there, I know it is. I need to sit quietly and be patient, waiting for its return as if it were a wild creature startled away by a loud noise or a sudden movement. If I pay attention, I won't overlook it upon its return, won't fail to recognize that its presence is made more dear by the cost of its absence.
I know I will find it again, and soon. But for the next little while, I think I just need to be sad.
Because it has been one of those weeks.