“I’m glad to hear you are alright. Karen’s husband died last night so at least there is some good news. It’s been bad all morning.”
That was the note returned to me after I texted a coworker to let her know how my surgery went last Friday.
The message stayed with me, even through the grogginess of anesthesia and pain relievers.
Fifty-six years old.
Two children in high school.
A forty-seven-year-old wife and mother will now fly solo at her daughter’s upcoming graduation.
Three days earlier, Warren had received a call from his good friend’s spouse.
The vibrant forty-eight-year-old man had a minor stroke and was in the hospital. Could we please come?
“It just reaffirms that anything can happen at any second.” Warren said. “We were just talking last night about how neither of us has had much ambition this winter.”
(Albeit, this from the mouths of two workaholics.)
Unable to drive, I couldn’t attend today’s funeral services, so I contacted another office mate and asked her to pass along my condolences.
She messaged me that she would be happy to share my thoughts.
And then she asked if I’d heard about the death of another staff member’s husband…
* * *
Warren, me, and the kids visit Gavin’s grave every holiday.
Sunday afternoon, as I made my way to the top of the knoll where he is buried, I thought about the similarities between that day and the one almost twenty-three years ago.
Abdominal surgery made walking and the climb a slow and painful process.
Gray skies and rains mimicked the moods of the grieving.
No longer burdened by sadness or scourged by shame with regard to my son’s death, most of my connections with him are celebratory in nature.
But this Easter, as I trudged up the hillside, I felt the weight of others’ sadness.
How would our friend’s family survive on one income, especially without the added funds from the side work he does at home?
What will happen to their two college kids? Will they be forced to leave school?
Mixed with concern for neighbors was this blaring reminder, shining its high-beams directly into my eyes: It can happen. Anytime. Anywhere. To anyone.
None of us are exempt from hurt or tragedy.
There are no free passes.
As I thought about these people and their situations, an event from this past summer came to mind.
Some girlfriends and I had gone to a local fair and stopped at an eatery for Italian sausage.
Upon seeing the cook’s shirt, I shrieked with delight and asked him if I could take a photo of it.
He grinned and humored me, but not before saying, “Nothing but the truth. This definitely ain’tthe life I ordered. There’s been a whole lot of shit.”
Who can resist the layers of meaning?
Sometimes the dishes life serves up are undercooked and raw.
Sometimes they are burnt to a crisp.
Sometimes, and possibly more times than we acknowledge, what we are delivered is just right.
And sometimes we simply choose to look at our experience from a different viewpoint…
Refusing to let it ruin the rest of our day(s)…
* * *
And speaking in those terms, today I read this most poignant statement over at Daily Plate of Crazy.
“Erosion is inevitable, but not immune to transformation,” wrote D.A. Wolf.
The photo at the beginning of this piece is of a creek running through our property.
Flooding that occurred two years ago left this path littered with tangled debris, uprooted trees, and large deposits of earth and stone that had been scoured out from the lands upstream.
Many weeks of work with heavy equipment were exhausted removing obstructions from the water’s course.
Many more hours spent shoring up the edges between the earth and waterway.
“Erosion is inevitable, but not immune to transformation.”
There will be times when we sidestep life’s piles of steaming shit, when we dodge the path of destruction.
And there will be instances when disaster is delivered right to our front doorstep and we step into the mushy mess, right up to our ankles.
Circumstance might undermine our foundations, might even destroy beyond recognition that which we have come to know, but it cannot take away our ability to reconstruct the original or to fashion something entirely new.
Tragedy doesn’t diminish the simple fact that in every destructive image lies a reflection of something beautiful, and the occasion for fresh and wondrous growth…
If we look closely enough at what lies in front of us, we might discover the delicate balance between the destruction and the divine that coexist in our lives…
“This is NOT the life I ordered.” Ha ha ha. Unfortunately we’re stuck with it. There will be no refunds or returns.
Now this guy at My Crummy Apartment manages to take the mundane and turn it into something of an appetising dish. I must make some notes. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81YyB94iLOo) Can we turn our lives around? Can we turn the mundane into something appetising?
But, on the other hand, a colleague is fond of saying, “You can’t polish a turd.”
“Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
-Born Under A Bad Sign by Brooker T. Jones and William Bell (<– Bell with no second E)
No returns or refunds, but exchanges are unlimited!
Yes! Yes! We can create the most appetising dishes from the mundane…in the kitchen and in life. Creativity + Courage = My Motto: Moxie! (I’m couting down the days to leftover chicken.) 🙂
Lastly, there are plenty of “Reclaimers” who could challenge your colleague. There’s no telling what a little imagination can do to a turd…
Bad sign? Bring it on!! 😉
You are most kind to quote that piece of writing. Thank you.
So much tragedy. So much to withstand. I wonder how you do it, or how anyone does it, except we really haven’t any options except to endure and try to find the beauty when we can.
The quote wrote itself into this essay. So, thank you. Did you receive my e-mail a week back? Uncanny, I tell you, how similar some of the topics undulating in our brains…
We never know what we are capable of, until we are given the opportunity to rise to an occasion…
I believe we have many options when Shit flies in our faces: from anger or denial, to blissful ignorance, to acknowledging the Happy Happens Moments, to seeking out our individual healing paths…
Thanks for being here, for caring and sharing… 🙂 It’s nice to know our words hold meaning…and that we matter…
Hugs and healing…
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