I HAD once read in an article that when life sucks you down and it feels like you have reached bottom, plant both feet firmly below and then kick up to propel yourself safely back to the surface.
While the analogy might not seem to be the perfect one-size-fits-all for this, the very imagery conveyed of one struggling to reach the surface totally captures how it feels. Second only is the exact moment of finally breaking free of the dark depths and then being able to “breathe again”.
In the family tragedy of last week, the plunge into the deep darkness had been felt by everyone, all except for our 93-year old patriarch. We had purposely withheld the terrible news from him, as we all feared he may be too fragile to learn about another death in the family. Just among us, his nine children, last week’s passing of our brother had made it the fourth, and to think, we had likewise lost our mom, his mate, in 2007.
True, the decision may have been a case of over-thinking on our part, but we had all considered the mentioned factors, and including the undeniable truth that everyone among us had been at a loss, for both words and strategies, on how to break the news as gently as we could. We all felt this must prove to really be a handful for an old man, and at that time I had even, in passing, thought of King Theoden’s words, “No parents should ever have to bury their child.”
Yet indeed, words will always fail us, especially during the times when we want so badly to express what and how we feel. The courage to do so comes ever so slowly, until when we have finally reached that particular bend in the road which dictates that it is time to say what one needs to be said, or if not, just dumbly blurt it out.
We all had thought that my father would be upset. Exactly a day before my brother’s internment, we went to see papa at the main house (our mothership). We had made all the necessary preparations, a doctor’s advice and recommendation of what pill to give just in case, an oxygen tank stood by the lanai, and a 911 call was within reach. He had taken it calmly, expressing even, as a man his age would, that he envied our brother for going ahead.
What lifted his spirit though, which eventually took him back to smiling again, was when we mentioned his twenty grand-children, nineteen great grandies and two great-greats, with another in the oven. The pitter patter of tiny feet had never left his house, and at the mention of this, we told him that his time was still far in the distance; and that he could still wait for these ruggies to have their own.
From another perspective, this might still be a different bottom. The presence of children, miracles that they really are, always lights up whatever darkness is there that surrounds us. I sincerely wish he sees their continued presence as a ray of hope, maybe only not for him but for the whole clan. We’ve all reached bottom on this one. We could break the surface together with these cherubs.
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