As I’ve walked this road so far and pictured it more in water than solid ground, the image of the waves and the shores keep playing and I get a glimpse in my mind’s eye of where I am. The shore of what our life used to look like, the 6 of us as a family, is still behind me and out of reach. It is a beautiful shore full of memories of life well lived, love experienced in all its messiness. Ahead, in the distance, is another shore to be journeyed in, but yet to be reached. The shore of what was is much closer than the shore of what will be.
And then there’s now. Bobbing up and down in the waves. I have gotten out past the breakers of the first few weeks. I feel in no danger of drowning, but have no control over where I end up. Up and down.
“Ride the waves” has come out of my mouth more than you can imagine. Part of it is my effort to remind myself I don’t need to control or manage this process. Oh how I long to do it well, but that can quickly translate to placing value on my responses and evaluating my performance. Such a slippery slope.
It’s an odd sort of thing that it somehow feels more “right” to be at the bottom of the wave, in the midst of the intensity of emotions, crying the ugly cry. And yet the past few days I have found myself at the top of a wave with a hopeful view of the future shore and it is unsettling. I find myself looking around as it were to see if I’m in the right place. Is it ok to say that I’m ok?
Any state I’m in is temporary. It’s always been like that. This life and my emotional state are not static. In marriage. In relationships. In the weather. There are seasons. So I know that wherever I am is not where I’ll always be. But can I really just be in an ok place? This is a new kind of resting for me. A new kind of trusting my heart and my journey to the One who sees and knows.
It has been a struggle to feel ok having ok moments, hours, even days. I remember back to the day of waiting. We were at the state volleyball tournament cheering on the amazingly brave Tanalian Lynx team wearing the number 5 on one cheek and the number 11 on the other in solidarity. Kaitlyn and Zach’s numbers. Caleb would hold is hand with 5 fingers spread wide, arm fully extended over his head each time he took the ball to serve. There was plenty of awareness of the gravity of the situation.
But there was also joy even in that moment. There were good plays and a baby to snuggle and dumb jokes being made and community to enjoy.
There was also the cameras of the media recording the events of the day and possibly my response. And I found myself wondering if it was ok that they might capture a face alight with joy. A grin or a head thrown back in laughter. But there it was. As the hours went on and the hope for a rescue faded there were waves of nausea and tears that flowed, but there were also moments of joy.
The struggle came as I looked around at people responding to me, and I found myself wondering if it looked like I didn’t care, if it seemed like I wasn’t aware of the tragedy. It felt more acceptable to be doing the sad emotions than the happy ones.
So I’ve had to let it go. The thoughts and perceptions of other people. A new way to trust. To be. While it may be hard for some to see me with a face-splitting smile, sometimes that is where I am. And the reality I’ve seen is that there is uncertainty in being with someone in deep pain whether they are weeping or laughing.
So I’ll laugh. And I’ll cry. And I’ll make jokes and share memories and probably say shocking things. The whole range of human emotions have just been put on steroids.
And I’m still me, just drastically altered.