I was sad yesterday. Between the post-vacation blues, the upcoming 6 year anniversary of Lucy's death, the absence (death) of one of my best friends (Justin Kinnaird), the grey and rainy weather, and missing my Park City family... I was struggling. I still am. But yesterday I felt that deep sadness that I haven't felt in a long while. I was thirsting for something. But I didn't know what.
When checking out in the grocery line, of course I saw the large, bright pink poster asking for donations to Primary Children's Medical Center. I think it is wonderful that they have these handmade signs with photos of real families going through difficult health issues with their precious children. I stared at the poster for quite a while, waiting for the cashier to ask if I would like to donate. I wanted to be asked if I'd like to donate. My heart was in the mood to answer, "Yes (like I always do), I would. Our daughter died there and gave her organs to save the lives of others. That hospital is scary and sacred and wonderfully frightening."
But he never asked. And that's fine. I was pulled back into the scuffle of keeping my children from falling out of the cart and stealing candy bars, paying for my items and finagling the huge "car cart" out of the store.
It had been raining off and on all day but as we exited the store, there was a calm outside, though still a cloud cover, and the cool breeze felt healing on my skin. That's when Peter excitedly pointed out the garden porch swing for sale in the front of the store, sitting amid the potted plants and dozens of colorful flowers. He and his redheaded sidekick anxiously scaled their way out of the cart and onto the swing. I stood there lost in thought about all the things I needed to get done. Peter patted the open spot next to him and said, "SIT." I hesitated for a moment but finally pushed our darn cart (I hate those big carts with the cars in front for the kids to drive. I can barely see over the cart and it takes my whole body weight just to turn the blasted thing) out of the way of the front doors and sat down next to my munchkins.
I completely let go of all of my "shoulds" and "have to's" and held my head to the sun while we swung back and forth, back and forth. Customers smiled and waved as they entered and left the grocery store, causing me to smile back. The kids giggled as we took photos and I stole as many kisses as I could.
Above us flew a life flight helicopter. "Look at that, Mom!" Peter shouted. "It's a cool helicopter!" I told him it was a special helicopter that took people to the hospital. My tears welled up as I started to tell him it was the same kind of helicopter that flew Lucy to the hospital. But he switched the subject and was on to another observation or adventure.
But I was so grateful for that moment when my children took me out of myself. And for my dear friend, Emily Dunn, who, later that day, let Peter come over and play with her son, Tommy. Visiting with her took me out of my sadness as well. And meeting up with more friends that evening in Murray Park (friends who also lost their child when he choked on a pretzel) pulled me from my sadness.
And I crawled into bed last night with a grateful heart. Truly believing that I have nothing to complain about.
These moments of deep sadness I experienced in the morning reminded me of the constant state of brokenness and grief I was in for years after Lucy's death. And as many a grieving mother will attest--I actually miss those days. Why? Not for the pain. Not for the tears. But I miss them for the vulnerability, softness, and awareness they infused into my senses. It made the good times more glorious. When I did have a respite from my pain, it was like a cool drink quenching an aching thirst. And the satisfaction was beyond anything a well-hydrated person could experience. My thirst allowed me to empathize with others more fully and it made me more at one with the essence of myself.
It actually felt good to experience the onset of dehydration and the desire to quench it by telling the clerk at the grocery counter, "Yes, I would love to donate to Primary Children's Medical Center...and here's why..." And to tell my son about the helicopter that took his sister's body away. "
It takes some silence to make sound. It takes some tears to make you trust. It takes some years to make it rust. It takes some dust to have it polished."
On this Mother's Day, exactly 6 years since I sang in church, the Sunday before Lucy died, while she pointed to the speakers in the lobby during my song and said, "Mommy, Mommy!", I am thankful for yesterday's sadness. It makes me infinitely more grateful for today's joy. I am thankful for all that my unquenchable thirst taught me. And I'm thankful for the invaluable lesson I've learned that when I feel the pulls of that same thirst now and again, I know what a miracle it is that it can be quenched. Sometimes I forget that it can be quenched and I feel there is no way out. But with an open mind and a broken heart and vulnerable spirit, I think it is possible to set our burdens down, sit in a swing, and marvel at the beauty and the simple and the amazing people around us.
*wow. was this all so cheesy? i don't know. things just spill out of me. all i know is i need a tall glass of ice water now.