Sometimes it’s while I’m driving, and I suddenly realize I’m not focused on anything, not hearing or seeing what’s in front of me. Sometimes I’m sitting on our back deck, with a book in my hand, and 10 minutes has passed without me reading a word. These moments I feel our losses so fully, so closely. I miss Ezra so much my body simply can’t process anything other than this feeling. I feel the empty place Price was to fill. It’s like my senses are fighting for my attention, and for a moment they all lose to this one feeling. It’s that tightening of your chest, that feeling you got in your youth when you realized a cherished relationship was over, or when you admitted to or were caught in a crucial mistake which you were powerless to change. But it’s heavier than that ever was.
It comes and goes.
Strange how a thing can have been so far from you your whole life, and suddenly be everywhere. I’ve met so many people these past 9 months who were affected by cancer in a personal, deep way. Today I have been reading the blog of a family who lost their beautiful daughter Tuesday Whitt. A family we know lost their father/husband to cancer. Another friend had their son diagnosed with leukemia. My inbox has flooded with references to neuroblastoma families both in treatment and out, living and lost.
I spent this weekend in Denver, as I do monthly or so since my business partner lives up there and we have folks working for us in the city. Sunday evening Robyn and I went out to a nice dinner. We were on our way back to our good friends’ house, who we were staying with, when they sent us a text saying their friend was in town and would be stopping by. Turns out it was a guy I’d met nearly a year ago, only once. Let’s call him VJ. He was diagnosed with a fierce, rare bone cancer just this April. We stayed up late talking about life, cancer, and how they’ve combined for us. VJ was thin, and had that hairless going-through-chemo look. He reminded me of Ezra, and how delicate we all are, and how vibrantly strong we all are.
Ezra died at 2 years old, and we were never really able to have a conversation with him about how it all felt, or what he was thinking. We could tell when he was hurt and many of his feelings, in that way a parent can… and I think something deeper, too… but never an adult conversation. I know it’s different from a 30 year old man to a 2 year old child, and I know some things simply never registered to Ezra as abnormal (he spent more than half his life in hospitals; learned to walk in them), but as I listened to VJ talk I kept thinking of Ezra.
I have noticed changes in the way I interact with the world on every level, and I asked VJ about this. It’s all shaken us up to a thought: either there is nothing that matters, or everything does. It is possible nothing matters – could it be we simply exist without meaning and any attempt to romanticize this life is vain? I’ve considered it. The alternative, I find, is only that everything matters. I can’t rationalize a medium. It seems every moment should be relished, each a part of something so boldly beautiful as life. So brashly present. Rest should be well spent and welcomed. Those in need should be given to. Beauty should be pursued. Pain should be felt, not pushed aside. We should see with fresh eyes a world which is astounding. We should feel music. We should lose ourselves in an afternoon with a loved one; we should invest in our friends; we should set ourselves to love the broken, the homeless, the lost. We should step into the heat of the sun and soak it in; we should shiver in the cold and marvel at the clarity of the air.
VJ called it a “come to Jesus moment” when he first realized all that.
I very much fail at doing it. I set these thoughts at the front of my mind, and all I can do is approach each day with God’s grace and strength and a focus on living that day. Which doesn’t have to mean a huge day, but an appreciation of what happens in it. A heart embracing both pain and joy and seeking out beauty.
Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that’s been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters
Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters
Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters
Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissention
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters
Like a single cup of water
How it matters
Why it Matters / Sara Groves