Grief and joy seem all muddled up lately, which is confusing. I checked this site earlier today with the intention of posting a link to a video of the meteor shower from yesterday. Then I read Tim’s and Tinman‘s eulogies for their friend Doug from UVa, whom I never knew but could have, and decided that it just wasn’t enough. I couldn’t follow T.S. Eliot with a meteor shower video. Although maybe I could have.
I haven’t known any personal tragedy in my life, for which I am grateful. A fair number of deaths at decent intervals have come my way, but only when the people in question had lived full lives and we could let them go. More than once, I’ve sat back and wondered when my time would come. What will be the huge grief of my life? The test? It may never come. Maybe it already has and I haven’t recognized it yet.
Mary, one of my dearest friends, has had more grief and trials in her 26 years than most people see in a lifetime. When I first met her, the first thing you saw were her eyes, which burned like cigarettes with all the pain inside. She once met Maya Angelou at a lecture, and couldn’t find words for what she wanted to say to the famous author. She didn’t have to — Dr. Angelou took one look at her, said, “Oh, my child” and folded her in her arms. Mary has that effect on people.
Mary called Debbie and me on Saturday with the news that she and her husband Dave are expecting their first baby. This news wasn’t exactly a bombshell — they’ve been trying for years — but it still put a sparkle in the air and lifted my feet from the ground. Out of all the pain, the doubt, the fear: new life. Healing. Promise. Hope. An answer. And new questions.
There are always more questions. When I first faced adolescence I thought that someday things would get simpler, that I’d catch up on the questions and have a breather before being bombarded with more. Yeah, right. At some point the questions became life, and for now that’s okay. Every person you meet holds a clue to the puzzle, and over time the pieces start to form a pattern, occasionally being re-kaleidoscoped in new ways. I love that.
I’m sorry for Doug, his family and friends. I’m joyful for Mary and Dave and the baby. Right now, I’m sad and tired in a bemused kind of way, but that’s just because I’m a work. Some things never change. After all, Life carries on, as Peter Gabriel says.