Glorious and Excruciating
Today was glorious. And excruciating.
I slept in, washed dishes, put away laundry, paid a bill, and updated my Running playlist on Apple music. I appreciate the simple things that comprise everyday life now more than ever.
Then I went for a 5k run—just before noon when it was about 95 degrees. That was stupid. I finished the run due to sheer hard-headedness and then wondered if I was going to collapse of heat stroke right then and there. I walked it off, guzzled a lot of water, and felt really good about my accomplishment. Even though it was pretty stupid and I probably shouldn’t do that again.
I loaded my backpack with my everyday devotional readers, my journal, and my new purple gel pen (love!) and headed to Salt Creek Beach. I decided to bring the Tommy Bahama umbrella that Chip and I purchased years ago to use at Charli’s soccer games. We’ve used it twice.
I paid for my parking with change collected on top of the dryer and assumed the role of pack mule, carrying my bulging backpack, my umbrella, and my beach chair. Downhill was easy, though I looked rather tipsy, intermittently stopping to pull one or the other strap back up on my shoulder after it slipped down, leaving some item dragging along the pavement.
Perched on the sand, from under my umbrella, I experienced almost two hours of perfection. Maybe a more apt description would be….serenity. The breeze gently rippled the umbrella’s draping canopy. The waves sparkled under the sun’s rays. My purple gel pen glided along the pages of my journal, giving visible shape to my thoughts and feelings.
My soul was at peace. Content. Even joyful. I glanced down at my “Choose Joy” bracelet (thank you, Ana) and remembered that it’s OK to feel joy, even when depths of sadness and loss underly every other condition, emotion, and cognition.
The end of my paid parking drew to a close. As I was trudging up the hill back to the parking lot, I remembered the days when I would bring the boys to that beach. It was a major career move to get them and all our gear packed up at home, loaded into the van, and transported safely to the sand. We would spend hours playing by the ocean. I will confess, this wasn’t completely due to maternal altruism. Moms know….when they play hard all day at the beach, they fall asleep early that night. At the end of the day, I would summon the last one out of the water (usually Chandler), pack up, order them to rinse off and wash their hair in the outdoor shower (thereby hastening bedtime upon arrival at home), and assign each of them to carry something. With Chandler, it was usually a boogie board twice his size. Today I remembered my boys heading up that hill after long sunny days at the beach. I would not trade those memories for anything on earth.
As if that weren’t enough good stuff for one day, I drove straight to my Brit friend Penny’s house and hung out with her and Christine (another member of this shitty club) for a couple of hours. It is a gift when you have friends with whom you can be real. Even one friend. More than that, you have hit the jackpot.
And tonight at home. We talked about Chandler. Chip, Charli and me. The pain is real. We are each moving forward the best we know how. We have to hold each other in a space of grace as our new reality makes its way into every corner and crevice of our consciousness. We are learning how to do this. To allow one another to grieve in our own ways and to honor our differences in doing so.
I hate the pain that my kids now live with. Will live with forever. It will look different with time, but it will always be present in some form. Maybe in time, with maturity and growth and wisdom and all those grown-up things, I will be able to delete the word “hate” and insert something more spiritually attuned like “embrace.” After all, losing their brother will undoubtedly shape them as human beings, and knowing my kids, it will be in ways that make them show up even better in the world. For now, the most appropriate word to describe my feelings about it is “hate.”
So this is what it’s like. Glorious. And excruciating.