on When Hard Things Happen
I said yesterday that I can’t compare when speaking of tragic circumstances – but I will admit, I do. I remember sitting in class and relating situations as I watched my science teacher’s young family.
A boy, a girl, a boy. Each under 8.
“That was my family. That’s how old my dad was when he died.” I thought.
I see young Rylee, the daughter of the friend with stomach cancer; the one given the number. She’s in grade 10. A year older than me with my mom’s diagnosis. Older than the day I was pulled from math class to the Intensive Care Unit to watch my friend say good-bye.
But my mom wasn’t given a number. And Rylee isn’t so young anymore. Or was I really that young too?
Maybe it has less to do with comparison and more to do with perspective. I don’t know; I’m still learning. As ICU and a mom’s bald head are part of my history, this number is a part of Rylee’s.
I think of my mom’s words, too, the spring of Grade 12:
“You will go to that funeral.”
She was referring to a family at our school whose dad passed away. (Incidentally, to the same type of cancer as my dad.) We didn’t really know him, but my youngest brother was friends with their middle son. My parents would be out of town that weekend but us kids had strict instructions to go.
“You know funerals aren’t for the dead – they’re for the living. You go for the family; the ones who are left. You go to show support. You go to show they are not alone.
And this time, you three represent more:
YOU are a reminder that there are those who get it, who have been there before. Those who have made it and that life does go on. You are a reminder that God hears prayers. You go for those boys’ mom.
You represent hope, whether you know it or like it or not.”
And so I’ve come back from Mongolia, but the mission field is not behind me. Maybe nobody died while I was there, but it is a time of mourning now. Maybe that was just the beginning, the prologue to this chapter, this chunk.
It’s interesting I’m not in the middle of the yucky, dizzying circles this time. This time it’s in arms’ reach, and I see I have a choice. God knows just how long my arms are, so maybe I’m back to reach out a little. I’m not in the centre – and I don’t have to be –
But I can reach.
Maybe I’m here to listen.
Maybe I sat on cold concrete on windy days in UlaanBaatar because I needed to practice for listening with tea in my hands at kitchen tables and living room couches and standing in doorways.
Maybe I’m still a sucky comforter and maybe I don’t often have the words to say, but sometimes your presence is enough.
And maybe I’m back now
because amid the dark and ugly,
I can show hope.
And that’s a way better four-letter word, in my opinion.