‘We’re all just walking each other home.’ – Ram Dass
This weekend, a few of the kids returned to the nest to pick up their giant pup, Izzy. Such a reunion. Such stories. Enough dog hair to make fake mustaches for hipsters worldwide.
Yesterday, a friend who is kind and strong and gentle – a first gen college graduate with a heart for community – began what seemed his last fight against ALS. He is not yet thirty.
Today, my best friend said goodbye to the one buddy who shared her drive from SoCal to Manhattan 15 or so years ago as they both began their Kansas adventures. “Maybe in heaven Sundance will have kittens.”
Tonight, I missed two calls from a south Georgia pay phone. #1 Son tried to call before he dives back into Ranger School. He is healthy and moving forward. I was bereft. Not only had I missed him, but I missed the chance to speak life over him, to assure him of our love and confidence in him, and to listen. Urgh.
“Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.”* No truer words have been spoken by frog or man.
And we know this. As we pass through the peek-a-boo age of understanding permanence and impermanence through high school physics and into a wide world, we experience “love, loss, hope, repeat.”**
We grow accustomed to the changing seasons – seasons that are winter, spring, summer, fall unless you are in Kansas. Kansas’ Flint Hills seasons have been described as “death, rebirth, growth, and death again.”
And so it is.
Life and hope and families and friends.
Butterflies in our bellies
Boulders of dread rain down when loss revisits.
It’s all part of it.
And what are we to do? Hide?
Fortress inside all day and surround ourselves with heavy bricks of fear mortared with “safety?”
We can. But then we’ll have wasted years avoiding the one thing that gives this short life width – love, friendships, family, and community.
Recently, I decided that love and other without-a-map adventures are worth it. Completely unexpectedly. Friends and framily. Totally worth the ache a full heart feels when a love is lost.
The tears, snot-goobers, internal ache from head-to-toe, and then some are worth the risk of great love and the partings that too often follow.
I remember when my brother died so many years ago – I didn’t think I could go on. Nothing could fill that space. Ever. How was I going to finish college? Who would vet out the man my one-day kids would call, “Dad?” Who would protect, anchor, cajole, and watch the airplanes land in the Stuttgart airport with me until then?
He died. I returned to start the school year two days later.
All those years ago in Statesboro, Georgia, a parade of people began their march through my days. First the Delts and then so many more along the years. Good goofy people. Some harsh. Most were builders of joy and companionship. None replaced Pat, but today are SuperDave, Brother-in-Law Moe, Gil…who challenge, vet, and brotherly-love me.
No one set out to be part of the pantheon of peeps. We just opened a door and walked through.
We’ve been walking one another home since.
Love of all kinds is worth the risk, Pals. Let’s not miss out on life because we are afraid of the death of things.
We are brave. Time to step into our everyday derring-do. Framily is waiting.