When I was a child, I wanted to run away. The story goes something like this:
I packed my suitcase after getting mad at my mom, and I told her I was running away. She helped me finish packing, opened the front door and let me go. I walked half way down the street while looking back at the house and finally, turned around and came running home.
I want to run away.
Tonight, I took the dog and ran 2 1/2 miles. That hardly seems very far at all, but honestly I'm not a runner and so I felt the distance of the miles. It was nearly 10 p.m., and I hadn't been out that late in the evening on my own in years. I felt like I could have run straight out of my life.
I felt like I could have kept running.
I was tired for sure. I was breathing hard. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. And toward the end of my run, I could see lightening in the distance moving closer toward me. Then thunder came and just as I was finishing up, the rain started.
While I was running, I thought about what might happen if I just kept going, if I didn't stop. I wondered where I would end up, what might happen, how far I could travel. And as I got more tired, I realized that I probably couldn't travel very far at all. In fact, I was ready to turn back home after only a couple miles. And when I couldn't run any farther, I started walking.
Do you ever just want to run out of your life, away from your past, toward some unknown future that has to seem better than what is in the now?
I want to run through the rest of May and past June 1. I want to rewind the tape and go back to May 27, on the day that Grace's heart was beating, 140 beats per minute and I want to tell my midwife to induce labor now, to get her out of my body and onto my chest. I want her heart to beat again, to pound in her chest, to see her nearly seven-year-old self chasing after her best friend. I want to find her shoes scattered across the living room floor like the rest of children's shoes are, and I want her tossing and turning in her own bed or in her sister's bed each of them taking up way too much room, unable to lie straight with the covers neatly tucked around themselves.
I want her to tell me she doesn't want the corn and edamame salad at dinner, and that she doesn't like the grilled tofu. I want her to pull at my leg as I'm putting on my tennis shoes to go out for a run, and I want her to stop me from going.
And I want all four of my children lined up, side by side, running along beside me without knowing what it means to want or long for or pine for or wish for.
I want the laundry piled up even higher with her clothes tossed in, and I want the dishes stacked taller and the enormity of our lives even larger.
I want to simply feel overwhelmed by being a parent not overwhelmed by a sort of grief that continues to pull me into these dark spaces, that continues to enlarge my heart in ways that I no longer want it enlarged.
I want to shout at the top of a mountain that I didn't want this, that I didn't choose this, that I could think of 20 people I'd rather have dead than Grace, that certainly someone else could have handled it better. That maybe those people who know how to shut down and shut out and turn off would be a better person for all of this grief, that they could have done a much better job. That maybe denial has a really good reason for showing up in people's lives because the protection from denial right now seems pretty good.
I want to climb to the top of the mountain and down the other side.
I want to run away.
I want to put on my running shoes again and head out into the storm to let the thunder and lightening and rain come crashing down.
It is in these moments that I most remember that love is the reason for all of this. Love is the reason for grief. Love is the reason for denial. Love might be the only real reason for us to be in this world. And that love without Grace sometimes seems kind of pointless. But then there are the faces of the other three.
And it is in their faces that I most can find Grace.
It is in their love where she exists.
And if I can find her there, then really nothing else matters.
This then is how grief works.
This then is what love is.
This is where grace matters most of all.