Somedays I close my eyes and I’m standing on a thin and shaky wire. With one wrong lean or step either way, I might come tumbling down. I remember being a little girl at the circus, under the big top tent, watching the tightrope walker put on a show. I hold my breath and shovel popcorn into my mouth with my sticky cotton-candy hands, unable to look away as she walks across the skinny, bouncy rope in her battered and dusty ballerina-like shoes. Tension in the air as she takes each step.
Would she do it?
Can she make it across?
In that case, she did. The small-town crowd cheered and we all marvelled at her skills. Ironically, as the most un-balanced, least-flexible, stunt-like person around – I relate to tightrope walkers everywhere. While I’m not suspended 100 feet in the air (thank goodness because I’m afraid of heights), the balancing act for me most days is this continual space between joy and grief.
I think I live there now, it’s pretty much my home.
And, I try not to fall off in the middle.
Happy and sad.
Past and the future.
The joys of life, mixed with all the hard things.
This past weekend we had a family celebration for my son and his beautiful fiancé. The first of the next generation in our family to get married. Our first born. The oldest grandchild in the beloved line of cousins, soon starting a life of his own. My heart was so happy. I held back tears as I snapped some pictures, remembering all the friends and family at different stages of his life. Another milestone in the journey of letting go.
From little boy, to soon-to-be husband.
The celebration was wonderful. I was filled with joy, laughs rang out, memories were shared and there were smiles all around.
In the middle of it all though, I was walking that thin and shaky wire.
Like the tightrope artist, trying to make her way across to the other side.
Walking the line between joy and grief.
With every hug, smile and congratulations – I missed my mom and I wanted her there.
She would have been all over that day. She was with us when Noah came into the world, and took his first breath – and she never stopped caring for him or loving him as long as she could express herself. In all the celebrations we have had lately – I imagine her there with her big smile.
“Grandma’s treasure is getting married” is what she would say.
My heart can’t process that she won’t be at his wedding. That I can’t have her beside me, beaming in pride. I want her to help me with my dreaded dress-shopping, and tell me how to wear my hair. I want her in the pictures, I want to see her with all her family gathered around.
In the middle of my immense joy, I feel this deep grief.
But, I just keep on balancing and making my way across that shaky rope.
Here’s the thing about longest good-bye journeys, and perhaps most paths that we walk in life. If every day was filled with only sunshine and roses – it wouldn’t be very realistic living. And, if we only dealt with sadness and pain – we’d never be able to get up and face another day.
The middle. The tightrope. The balancing.
By grace, that’s the space we often have to live from. And, it’s often the place where we have to learn to grow. There is a season for everything under the sun, and how we walk each season is significant. I don’t like it, but I’m learning to embrace it. I’m navigating how to draw from both. So I can keep my balance.
Finding the moments of value in both sides.
I went to visit my sweet mama after the shower, after our day of celebration. More than ever I’m keenly aware of the pictures of family behind her on the wall in her new home, showing how life is moving forward. It’s like a slow-motion picture, blurring around her.
But she’s still here and that is enough for my heart. So, I held her hand, I told her through my tears and soaked mask, all about the shower and her beautiful grown up grandkids – and the people she loves and that love her. She’s happy and smiley as I talk, and I see that as another love gift from God.
I feel seen and loved by her, and by Him.
When I got married, sunflowers were my obsession – my mom even planted a couple seeds in her front rose garden for me – and they grew so tall that we laughed over the wonder of it all. On my way to see her, I bought a big bouquet of sunflowers and put them in her room on her window sill. I held them right up to her face and she smiled her big smile. This memory of my wedding and our moments together, as my son gets married – connected me back to her.
And all feels ok again.
I haven’t fall off the wire.
Working on my balance, even through the shaky days.
Trying to keep in the steady centre.
Gathering up the joy in the moments.