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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reflections on a Monday Mourning

There are things in this life that compel me to write. They are happy and sad. Funny and peculiar. Meaningless and important. And then there are things that are shocking and raw and tragic that I write about, but I hesitate to publish. I probably won't post this today. I didn't think I would even write today. It didn't seem appropriate yet. And maybe it never will. Because some losses are too close. Or maybe it's just the opposite. Maybe some losses are close, but not quite close enough. Maybe not close enough to warrant my thoughts and feelings and confusion being splayed across the page when others' pain is deeper than mine. So I might not post this today, tomorrow or ever. Yeah. I was thinking that maybe I shouldn't even write today.

Then, of course, writing always seems to find me. In the deepest, darkest moments. In the moments when the world makes no sense at all. In the moments when I wake to find myself recoiling against the sun streaming bright through my window at 6:00 am. A sun that I have literally begged to see for three dreary, grey weeks. And yet, in those first moments when I hovered between asleep and awake, I shut my eyes tight against the new dawn because if it really was morning? If we really had turned the calendar page from the 15th of May to the 16th of May? If Sunday really had become Monday? Well, then that meant I was about to realize that the news of yesterday was not a bad dream. That the shock had not worn off. That even though my house is full of the same people who filled it yesterday, that would not be the case this morning for a sweet friend and her two young kids. So, inevitably, I find myself here trying to tap out sense in the senseless.

Yesterday a father, a husband, a friend and member of our baseball community was suddenly lost to us. A man with a permanent smile that lit up his face and shone bright on his friends and family is gone. A man who was just here. Just everywhere. Just jogging down the street. Just waving from the car. Just watching the game at the field across from ours. Just at Glory Days Grille laughing with the whole gang. Just at Nats Park on Opening Day with his kids. Just chatting with me at the ballpark about running or Little League or the Nationals or what was it? I want to remember and I can't, even though it seems it was just minutes ago. Minutes. Now he is just gone. It's incomprehensible to me.

I am aware that life is fragile. I am aware that we aren't guaranteed our next day or our next hour or our next minute. I am aware that none of us get to stay here forever. I am aware of all of this in some deep, unreachable part of my brain, but my heart cannot find that awareness. My heart is completely and utterly incapable of understanding this.

And it seems as my fingers fly across these keys looking for profound meaning and comfort that there will never be enough. There are not enough words to write. There are not enough verses to recite. There are not enough tears to shed or enough disbelieving shakes of the head to ward off the truth. There is no magic clock whose hands will turn backwards 18? 20? 22? hours so that we might start yesterday over again and make it turn out differently. So instead I marvel at how abruptly my perspective on every little thing can change in less than 24 hours.

We hear these cliches constantly. Life is short. Appreciate each moment. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Don't take anything for granted. I have even written about them here numerous times. We say these things. We believe these things. Why, oh why, is it so hard to remember them?

The last two months of my life have been a blur of activity and worry. Of lists and more lists. Of "I don't have time for that right now, because there's this right now and that later and please don't ask one more thing of me because all of these items on this little piece of paper and in this little device in my hand demand my full and complete devotion."

I have waved my husband off to work barely looking up from my list. I have dropped my youngest off at school and I have not stopped to watch him walk in, so singularly focused have I been on where my car needed to go next and what things needed to be crossed off that list. I have turned off the light at night telling myself I'm too exhausted to stay up to ask my teenagers about their classes or their friends or if they are too stressed out to handle all the BS adolescence throws at them.

And none of those things on that stupid list are an emergency. Not a single one of them is more important than the four faces that God has put right in front of me. Not a single one. And yet for weeks that have turned into months those faces have been blurred by the frantic ridiculousness of the one woman who is supposed to love them more than anything in all the world.

So along came yesterday. What horrific events must occur in order to force a hand to repent. Only minutes before I walked in the house last night to hear the news, I actually had taken time after a run to walk slowly into the woods behind our house. Slowly and methodically. I hadn't done anything slowly in weeks. I hadn't taken time in the 18 days we have lived in this new house to go out and actually look up at the trees and set foot on the trail that had been one of the main reasons we had even moved here. As my breaths evened out and my heartbeat calmed, my mind cleared of the muck. And I did ask God to forgive me for worrying about little things. I did ask Him to slow my my mind and grant me peace and rest in a life that seemed to be spinning wildly with things that didn't matter. I walked back in the house with a hopeful sense of calm just in time to watch Steve's face darken as he received the phone call.

I wonder now if God was reminding me out there among the rustle of leaves in the trees of how much I needed Him to order my steps. I wonder if He was readying me for something that would not just slow me, but would stun me to stillness so that the only place to look for help was up to Him.

Well, I am most certainly slowed today. I am frozen. My legs are weak, my feet do not know in which direction to step first. My pen hovers over the all important Monday Morning List and I can't think of a darn thing that makes sense to do today. I am begging Him to help me start to find beauty and hope in a world where the air is thick with grief and despair.

So I sat still. And in the sitting for awhile this morning this is what I'm thinking.

I'm thinking of the fact that Tom Morrison was just in this world moments ago and I'm thinking of what we lost. And I'm thinking of what responsibility we have in living the days out that were not afforded our friend. Tom was not my closest friend. There were those who knew him much better than I. But there are some things I do know of him.

Tom's essence was easy and carefree. Tom smiled always. Always. I'm not sure I ever heard Tom grumble about coaches or umpires, but if he did I'm pretty sure there was a twinkle in his eye and a laugh that went with it. I picture him standing outside the baseball diamond, his hands in his pockets, his gaze toward the field, his shoulders shaking with laughter, his smile wide with joy and his voice cheering for any number of kids. Not just his own boy, but mine and yours and theirs. Tom didn't seem to be completely enthralled with himself. He seemed to be genuinely interested in other people. In a world where everyone is at the ready to criticize and find fault, I never heard a single negative remark about Tom. Never once.

Last night Steve and I were at a bit of a loss as to what to do, but we figured our kids needed dinner so we went out to pick up pizza. As we drove, my tears dripped and my questions persisted at how and why in the world this could possibly have happened to this family. Steve did not say much, but he did say this:

 "All I know is that the world needed more Tom Morrisons, not less."

So there it is. This is where I know our steps need to start in the journey forward to finding beauty in the ashes that will follow this tragedy. The world is sorely lacking without Tom. Goodness and encouragement and genuineness began draining away when he left. Our obligation now is to fill up the lack with more people like Tom. We will work hard as soon as we can muster our energy to smile easily, to look one another in the eye, to ask about someone else's child, to laugh and to cheer and to encourage. We will work hard to love and support Tom's family and to cherish our own with a commitment we might have let slip lately. We will do all we can to make the world full of more Tom Morrisons.

And I think our sweet friend will be watching from the best seats in the house, smiling and laughing and cheering every one of us.

Rest in peace, Tom. We will be sure your light shines on.


“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
-Isaiah 41:10
Please pray mightily for Karen, Ryan and Grace

8 comments:

William Byerley said...

Thank you

Unknown said...

Beautiful and eloquently written. So sad that we need to be reminded of how precious life is by losing someone so loved by so many. Rest in Peace Tom.

God be with Karen, Ryan and Grace.

Kathy S Rau said...

Thank you for your words. Beautifully written.

Kathy S Rau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Faber said...

I am always in awe of what an amazing writer you are. Beautiful, eloquent, honest. Thank you for the grace and wisdom of expressing yourself in a way that reminds us all of the little things that are important and to say what we all are feeling but don't know how to put such meaning into the words like you do. Our hearts our broken for Karen and the kids. Prayers of peace and strength be with all those who loved him so!

Mommynea said...

Thank you Jenn. Yes Steve, more Tom Morrison's that is the answer.

monya Lynn said...

Just what I needed to read to take JUST a moment to reflect on the loss of a classmate taken from his family way too soon and JUST to take a moment to say a prayer for his wife, the mother of his children and his kids that will need strength to get through the rest of their lives.

Maria McDonald said...

Thanks Jen.