I talk so much about my penchant for restless and my inability to arrive at stillness. It is a constant battle to find that quiet place. As time wraps around like an uncontrollable ivy, I understand why it is so important to sink into all of our moments, quiet and noisy ones. This past week I’ve learned of at least three sets of people who’ve experienced loss. An older woman lost her husband after several years of marriage. A wife lost her husband midlife and is now faced with raising her four kids on her own. A mother and father lost their only child.
I attended the service of the parents who lost their only child. Sitting in the back row in a local friendship garden, I watched as this mother and father talked about losing their baby after knowing her only for 40 days. Tears started streaming down my face, as I contemplated all of the moments they would miss. The mother talked about holding her baby close on her chest, listening to her breathe, and and about how she loved feeling so loved. In the middle of her sadness, her husband comforted her and she took another breath, reminiscing about all those firsts: the first time her baby smiled, the first time she opened her eyes, the first time she witnessed bath time with her daughter. In between her pauses and sobs, I thought about those moments this particular mother would miss.
These questions came to mind: Why do we have to witness another person’s loss or experience our own loss to turn us toward gratitude? Why can’t we always remember to be grateful?
Experiencing the loss of others as well as our own creates an awareness that is acute and heightened. When I came home that evening, I hugged my daughter tight, kissing her cheeks and wrapping her up like my own personal burrito. A laugh emanated out of her belly. My distractions were minimal. I wasn’t reaching for my phone or on my computer. It was a rare glimpse of what it feels like to be in the moment: listening and reacting without racing to the next thought. Another thing happened: tears started trickling down my face again. This was a singular moment. I felt the thrum of my personal longitude and latitude meeting in my life: the intersection of an unconditional love and the acknowledgement of how lucky you are that you get to experience this kind of moment in your life.
So much of my daily landscape centers on the unresolved. As I grapple to find my way, I tend to focus on what is not, then what is. I suspect many of us fall back on that kind of safety net because it is the one we all know. The truth is, most of the time, everything is foiled with beauty, love, and a goodness that requires shifting my perception on focusing what is right. The struggle should not detract from the edge of gratitude. When I experience my own losses and those of others it reminds me to keep that flicker of gratitude always alive, like a mantra that I am chanting without ever moving my mouth.
Image: “Loss” by Marina del Castell via Flickr.