"The storm seems to be right over us," I said as I held her, "but it won't stay long."
A few minutes later, the thunder rolled from a farther distance, and Emerie relaxed and headed back upstairs.
Later that week, we ventured to the Air and Space Center and watched an IMAX movie about the International Space Station. The astronauts talked about their impressions of life up there, and of the view of things below. One talked about the surprise of learning that, from space, you can see storms all over the world. We watched the footage of lightning flashing in clusters on different continents at once. It got me thinking.
On the way home, we talked about our favorite parts of the museum. I mentioned the movie as one of my favorites. Specifically, to my Emerie, who still tends to see the world through her very narrow lens, I focused on the part about the storms. About how, in the midst of the storm in our backyard, it would be easy to assume we were the only ones fearful of thunder and lightning, the only ones enduring the pouring rain. But a higher perspective reminds us that there are storms all over, and that those around us are suffering too.
Throughout the day, distracted by the life in front of me, I would forget what had happened, then the tears would prick my eyes as it all came rushing back. Is there a name for that? For the crushing, recurring shock that comes with loss, as you experience it over and over, until your heart adjusts to your new normal?
I gazed into the waves, thinking about what it would be like to go home without him there. About the strangeness of not being able to say goodbye, even as I am grateful for the peace with which he died and the trauma the kids and I didn't have to endure.
From my spot on the beach this week with so much of our extended family, where so much love and joy and goodness also exists, I have seen lightning in the distance that reminds me the storms are not only over my head. I've sat on the deck, burdened for my loss and parenting difficulty and uncertainty in other areas, worried for a friend in transition, heavy-hearted for another with unanswered medical concerns, for a loved one hoping for healing. I'm reminded of the storms seen from space--how they are more plentiful, but also smaller and less scary-- from farther away. I'm breathing salt in and letting it run down my face, aware that the pain is real but that it won't last forever and that it's also not all there is.