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Days Like These

March 28, 2017

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Today has been one of those days.  Maybe it was the culmination of too many recent reminders about mortality, combined with a few feverish days spent in bed, mixed with an abundance of clouds…and possibly some lingering basketball issues (don’t judge).  Whatever the reason, today I felt myself surrendering to the gray.

I woke up with the same tension headache I went to bed with.  I hadn’t slept well with my husband out of town, and all I wanted was one more hour of shut eye.  My mood edged precariously toward grumpy, but I was able to manhandle it temporarily and get both kiddos out the door with hugs and smiles (yay me).

Then on the way to drop off my daughter, it suddenly hit me that the school year was winding down.  I found myself tearing up at a stoplight thinking about how quickly the next two school years will pass.  You see, two school years is all that I have left before The Next Chapter.  Before my firstborn graduates high school and heads off to college.  Before my baby finishes grade school and moves up to middle school.  Two.  Years.  Given that the past two years have felt approximately 17 days long, I naturally have some concerns.

I managed to stuff that train of thought into one of the super handy boxes I keep in my brain for just that purpose.  (I’m exceedingly good at packing things away in those, sometimes even when I shouldn’t.  Scarlett O’Hara and I have way too much in common.)  The gym was calling but I couldn’t answer over the incredibly naughty words my neck and head were screaming at me, so I returned home and downed an ill advised number of ibuprofen chased by an unfortunate amount of coffee.

Next on my agenda was a visit to my dear friend, E.  E is a hospice patient I spend time with through a volunteer program, and she lives quite a ways out in the country.  During my drive, I found myself scanning through music until I hit on a song that fit my mindset.  Rather than fight it, I decided to dance with it.  But I was going to pick the tunes.

This wasn’t a full-blown black mood, the kind that knocks you down like a rogue wave.  This was rather one of those feelings made up equally of pain and pleasure, like teenage heartbreak.  It called for a healthy bit of wallowing, of embracing the gray.  This is always a delicate balance for me, as I can easily slip and find myself letting the darkness call the shots, but today I was in charge.  If I wanted to hear Bono wail about all he wanted, or sing along with The White Buffalo about ravens and kings, damnit, I would.

When I arrived at E’s, she welcomed me with a long hug and a warm smile.  Our conversation meandered through time as it always does, jumping back to her childhood and forward to the recent past and folding in on itself many times.  Our visits are always bittersweet given the nature of her age and diagnosis, but today felt especially so.  My thoughts turned yet again to the swift passage of time, and to the evolution of family.  The sweet is that there are people in our lives who make us wish we had more time; the bitter is that we never have enough.  When we said our goodbyes I held on a bit longer than usual.

When I think about it, maybe that’s what days like this are all about.  Perhaps we need the gray to make us grateful when the sunshine comes.  Perhaps we need to reflect on loss in order to appreciate what can be taken away.  Maybe knowing we’ll eventually have to let go makes us hold on a bit tighter while we can.  The human experience means loving people and losing them in a million different ways.  It means feeling lost and heartbroken and angry and confused, but it also means feeling joyful and understood and so very much alive.

So I’ll embrace this day, and any more the universe has to offer.  It may be gray but it’s mine to live, in all its exquisite melancholy and awesome grace.  And with a pretty kickass soundtrack if I have anything to say about it.

Yours In Grace,

Ashley

 

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