We’re discussing the restaurant’s waterfall when I see the tears begin to roll down her cheek. In Hannah’s hand is a tiny object I can’t quite identify.
“I just realized this is the same pin I gave grandpa in the hospital.”
Taking it into my hand, I fasten the tiny image of a resurrection cross onto her tank before pulling her in for a hug, my shirt absorbing the sudden leak from broken places.
Later Grace would run into someone from school who’d ask the leading question, “How was your summer?”
“I didn’t know how to answer because good isn’t really right.”
And she’s spot on. It’s okay to abandon rote response and call a spade a spade. Our summer was marked by an abrupt goodbye and the death of dreams.
I was feeding Leo, my sister-in-law’s dog, when it struck me. Aside from his chomping the house was silent. In a family of big personalities this kind of quiet is rare to come by when we’re together in their home, but where the quiet was so too was Gary. Usually in bib overalls. Always with his coffee cup in hand and some kind of profound question. When he didn’t round the corner, I was leveled. “Leo’s eating and I’m crying,” I texted my man.
What we believed our summer held and the reality of our experience is markedly different. Painfully opposite. And, though we find refuge in the love of our tear-collecting God, some broken places will leave permanent emotional scars.
It’s not just the 10-year-old that didn’t know how to respond. I lost a bit of my voice with all of you, too. Sure, the newness of full time work combined with the necessary rest of my pinkie from my athletic tether ball injury competed against the optional brushing of computer keys. But, more than that, I had nothing. Tears and chocolate consumption often said what words couldn’t. It was a summer of sitting in God’s lap.
Much of the summer I felt paralyzed. Survival mode – figuring out our new equilibrium, being present to share in the grieving of four household members who process at different times, doing my ministry work well, remembering to do laundry - became a way of life. I just wanted to get through the day faithful to God and my family. The rest, if not life-giving, can and continues to be let go.
In making those choices we’ve had bountiful good times. Side splitting laughter and fun times with family and friends. “Good grief” has slowed us down, softened us, and revealed sweet authenticity we wouldn’t have otherwise tasted. The five of us are more intentional than we’ve ever been and within the messy layers of life we’ve discovered rich beauty.
Sometimes I still can’t believe that we’re living this. That in the midst of this valley we are able to put one foot in front the next. This God we cling to breathes life into dry bones and is doing precious things before our eyes, reminding us of greater joys yet to unfold.
And we’re energized by it. Waking with new hope. Tough days and tough moments, they will be real. But we are dreaming again.
There is new paint on the walls in our home remodel.
Three backpacks sit by the door for 3 very excited girls to start school tomorrow with teachers Grace called “perfect matches.”
My man is gearing up to lead All Pro Dad once more.
I’m prepping choreography for another school musical, placed my first classroom volunteer date on the calendar, and anxiously await seeing new ideas I’m bringing to the church (hopefully) bless families.
The pulse of life beats strong thanks to that resurrection cross. :)
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