Is there a safe path down the middle of life?
Paved and fenced. Protected from the elements. A covered walk way. Artificially lit, maybe. Not too much glare from the sun and plenty of light when everything seems dark. Would I take that path… if I had a choice?
If I did take it, where would it end? Could it avoid the inevitable? I think not. I would still die. We would all still die in the end.
I do not mean to sound morbid, real maybe, but not morbid.
It is, really, true.
We will all die in the end. And in that space between conception and death we live… How fully we live, that part we can choose.
There is a new family in town. We like them. Their boys are the same age as our boys and share many quirky characteristics between them. We speak the same language as the parents, a language that acknowledges the journey of life, the journey of loss, the wonder and challenges of parenting out-of-sync boys, a good recipe and the importance of a glass of wine on a Friday night. The Boy Racer’s new friend said to his Mum the other day, I wish we had an older sister and a younger sister because then we would be the exact same and we would all have someone to play with. His Mum speculated with me as to whether her (non-existent) younger daughter would have to die too. We agreed probably. But I thought how lovely it is that even our new friends get to play with Laura. That is a gift. An odd, but beautiful gift the elements have sent our way.
K’s friend, our friend, had a cough. He went to the doctor. A cold initially. Later, hayfever and an inhaler. But it isn’t. That diagnosis has mutated over the past few days into the unspeakable – inoperable, incurable. Last summer he visited and listened as we told him of our friend, Louise, in hospital then with breathing difficulties. We drank wine and chatted soberly. His breathing was perfect then.
I have lost my coat this week. I am holding it together, but my edges are frayed. This part of the path is unstable and things are falling off. Not just my coat. Other things too. I have lost my temper, the iPad… and now my reading glasses. Everything is shifting in this place.
We went West over Easter to the land of long meandering coastline and big sky and great, life-giving gulps of fresh air. Ireland was battered by storms over Christmas, one on top of the other, a steady pounding of howling winds, thundering rain and heaving, surging seas – brief gasps of sunshine and then they would start all over again – ending finally in early February with a hurricane. We wandered the coastline, Laura’s walk. In parts the road had disappeared into the sea. Further along the sea had lifted entire beaches full of boulders and sent them back into the fields beyond. Some farmers had begun the process of claiming back their land, re-establishing their boundaries. We carried a steadying weight of heart-shaped stones between us, knowing that Laura’s spot might need replenishing if entire beaches had been washed away.
Everything is shifting in this place.
People are coming. And leaving. Others, whom we thought we would grow old with, laughing over shared adventures as we journeyed, are being told their journey will be different, much shorter, from here on.
This path doesn’t feel so very steady from where we stand.
No wisdom – only noticing.
The boys have taken up climbing. I am giving it a go. Giraffe Princess wants to start. K was resistant, but he will learn to belay us as we climb. You cannot climb without support, without the absolute certainty that you are not alone and someone is there to hold you when you slip.