"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aftermath

Well into September and the days continue to be sunny. Last week's thunder storm brought much needed rain, so now we have sunshine and air that's moist and plump and soothing to both skin and soul. Perfect spider webs bejeweled with the night's moisture adorn random corners. Even flowers that were beginning to fade seem to have found new vibrancy.

The day after the storm in the small community where I teach, two teenaged boys, both new seniors, were in a terrible accident. The driver walked away. The passenger died. The trajectory of two families forever altered, and to a smaller degree that of most of the people in the town.

For those in deep grief, the early autumn beauty around them is unseeable and inaccessible. For those two families I expect bright skies and vivid flowers and dew-sparkled webs feel like an assault and are anathema. Winter has already started for them and will be the season of their lives for a very long time to come. I know. I remember.

For those of us only peripherally touched by that particular tragedy, as we are touched every day by so many losses that we have no power to prevent or end or ease, the question is how do we honor those who are suffering.

There are the traditions of course: food, prayers, memorial sites. The day after the accident, all the parents I came into contact with had spent extra time hugging their own children. And for most of us whose lives have been touched by this tragedy but not torn asunder, the darkness serves to make the light in our lives seem even brighter. Those of us who have been members of that terrible club for several seasons know that light will eventually return to homes where darkness now consumes everything. It will not be as bright for a while, and it will never look the same.

But one day, something will happen, a random magical thing, and they'll realize joy as vivid and brilliant as summer flowers after a rainstorm.

Two weeks ago, second day of school, while standing outside at the end of the day helping kids get where they needed to be, I noticed a mom and her two kids walk toward me. The boy probably third grade, the girl a kindergartner. Because I was focused on the mom, who was going the wrong way, it took a minute for me to see the girl standing directly in front of me. "You are beautiful!" she said. And walked away with her mom and brother as though nothing extraordinary had happened.

God's words and voice coming through the tiny body of a five-year-old girl. Received directly into the heart of a woman who at one time was certain her heart could no longer hold such joy.

Kathleen has been gone for almost three years. The sense of loss never diminishes. But life does indeed go on. And a heart can heal enough to make room for both the deep darkness of the unimaginable and the luminosity of pure seeing and love.

While these families are wrapped in raven wings of grieving, I will hold the promise of bright skies for them. And offer prayers for safe passage through this perilous time.


17 comments:

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Deb, this is such a beautiful piece. I've never lost a child, but when I hear a story like what happened in your town, I feel myself trying to hold off anything like it happening to my beloved grandchildren. You eloquently share both the darkness and the eventual return of light and hope, and that is inspiring. The little girl was right, of course!

lily cedar said...

It's Sunday today, the day I always had my mum over for supper. It's been six months now since she died and I'm still lost at times, unsure of what I should be doing, unsure of what I want to do.

I can see beauty again but still there is a sadness deep inside that doesn't want to let go.

yaya said...

Working in surgery, I have been the witness of tragic accidents..the telling to the parents that their child has died..the grief and tears. My nephew was 18 when he died in a car accident only a mile from his home. It's been almost 10yrs..so hard to imagine and yet we still feel the loss. I know my Sister feels this loss at every family gathering where there is always that empty chair. I know life goes on, joy does come again..but like you so beautifully stated..it's never the same. I hope you continue to find peace and love after your tragic loss. I think your little student saw not only your outer beauty..but the inner as well.

Barb said...

Both physically and spiritually - you are beautiful, Deb. The innocence of a child conveys the truth - hold it close. I, too, believe grief conveys us to a darker place but allows that someday a bit of light may shine through the cracks of our being.

Stacy Crawford said...

So sad for those families of the boys. They are in my prayers.

patricia said...

That child was so right! You ARE so beautiful! You radiate the room with that smile of yours, even through grief and pain. I love you, my friend!

DJan said...

I think the beauty of your soul, as well as your outward appearance, reached out to that girl. I know it's a particularly hard time of year for anyone who has lost a loved one, as we watch summer wind down and the days shorten. I loved this, Deb, and I look forward to seeing you in just a short while! Then I can also be touched by your beauty. :-)

Teresa Coltrin said...

In small towns like mine, the death of anyone but especially children are personal.

Nice post.

Retired English Teacher said...

Yes, the child speak truth. You are beautiful. And, dear one, so was this post.

Aftermath...you speak volumes with the title of this post. Beauty from ashes does come, but it won't come for a while. For now, the families are all "wrapped in raven wings of grieving." That line says so much. I'm grateful to hear you are able to experience joy again.

Richard Hughes said...

The death of youths is hard to take.

Deb Cushman said...

Deb, You always have such a reflective way of looking at any situation. I love you for it and for helping us see things in a new light.

Pam said...

Deb you express this so eloquently.
Grief in these circumstances must feel like a bottomless pit, and the days truly dark. I feel for the families, as I felt for you in your dark days. You are so wise and a testament to courage, insight and strength.
God bless that little girl for her words to you.

Terri Tiffany said...

I wish I knew you in person. I love the way you look at life.

Terri Tiffany said...

I wish I knew you in person. I love the way you look at life.

Ryder Ziebarth said...

As beautifully constructed as always Deb. Your writing never ceases to amaze me and touch my heart. xo

Dee said...

Dear Deb, thank you. Peace.

Sandi said...

What is so remarkable about you Deb, is that you are exactly how you write. You are beautiful from the inside out, and your rich words resonate with all who find them. This description of the darkness of grief and the light at the end, is powerful. "While these families are wrapped in raven wings of grieving, I will hold the promise of bright skies for them. And offer prayers for safe passage through this perilous time." We know how perilous this time can be, and how dark. Thank you for this glimpse of hope and lightness to come. Love you.