I spent this weekend with my mom and daughter in Savannah, Georgia. It couldn’t have gone any better – the weekend felt scripted and presented to us in a ribbon-tied package filled with as much stress-free and joy-filled time as possible. We toured and walked and ate and drank. We sunbathed and swam in the ocean. We watched chick flicks and took many Uber trips.
Elsewhere, others inherited new burdens of grief, worry, loss, and tragedy. A friend learned her lifelong hopes of bearing children probably won’t be fulfilled. A friend’s sister is extremely sick again and needs another expensive surgery. A writer I love and admire is dead at 37, leaving behind a husband and two babies under 3 years old.
It is hard to hold so many distinct and disparate realities at once, joy sharpened and made bittersweet by the awareness that it will not always be like this. We have these seasons of peace; if we forget that grief and loss are never strangers for long, we might just miss a moment to let love and joy pierce our hearts, and by their wounds, keep us whole.
It does not seem possible – yet, even, still – that my mom is sick with stage 4 kidney cancer, because right now everything is almost fine, almost well. The sun shined over us all weekend, and now we are burnt. We each have different shaped hands and feet but the same funny looking pinky toe with a little bit of nail polish color on it. The future tried to elbow in through graveyards and sideways comments from Uber drivers about stages of kidney disease, but they were brief, fleeting reminders – awareness grief is out there, waiting, then shooed away on the Savannah breeze. The only care we had, right there, right then, involved choosing our next restaurant and deciding who was going to pay. Not wondering why, or how long, or when this season will come to an end.
The only way to weather this strange and often cruelly indifferent world is carrying what we are given undergirded by love. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. When grief and pain and suffering and loss drop their weight on us, love carries us and draws us together – those who grieve and those who rejoice. In that space we hold each other.
Keep holding on, friends. We need each other.