One Stray Tear
The delight lit my face as the couple turned the corner into the hallway where we stood in lively conversation. I threw my arms open wide, ignored the cell phones plastered to their ears, greeted each of them, first the husband then the wife who followed slightly behind him.
Oblivious, I missed the pained expression on his face as we exchanged hugs. As we separated, I watched a stray tear leak out of the corner of his eye. He kept walking as I shifted my attention to his wife.
"He just found out that his sister passed away," she said in a hushed voice."I'm so sorry," I replied, stunned into silence. I glanced across the way in time to see the man lean his forehead against the far wall."I think we're going to go," she added."I totally understand," I mumbled, at complete loss for words. "I'm so sorry," I repeated. She moved on to comfort her man. Having yet to lose a parent or sibling I felt rather foolish.
Later, questions ran rapid-fire through my brain. Why does the issue of death give us such pause? Do we avoid it so much that we never learn to cope when it faces us? Would it make any difference anyway? Do we not know how to empathize with the pain of another? Do we not care enough or do we care enough yet lack the tools or the skill or the experience to better support in times of need? Or perhaps no answer will ever suffice in such matters of the heart and only time can fill that gaping, jagged, ugly void that scratches the recesses of the soul.
I thought about the mother that loses a child to disease, the soldier that leaves his life on the battlefield, the accidents that part us from loved ones, that savage beast called anger that erupts in violent ways with little regard for the victim until it's too late. Always one constant-suffering, different for each of us yet endured by all, large and small, young and old, weak and strong, with no more discrimination than a roaring wind or a blazing heat, sometimes coming in gusts, sometimes beating on us without reprieve, relentless.
Then it fades. The magic of human resiliency creeps in unannounced and goes to work, a flickering smile, the first laugh, a deep shoulder shrug that sheds an albatross of sorrow, a blue sky that actually gets noticed, a dog lick that incites a momentary grin, a cookie that brings back a measure of sweetness that doesn't instantly disappear, a memory that opens the door for joy to sneak back in and sit a while.
Maybe we'll never figure it out. Maybe there's nothing to figure. Maybe it's hard to speak permanent goodbyes and harder still to accept them. Maybe the tragedy makes way for real love, a bliss born in the contrast of anguish. Maybe the tears wash away grief, one salty drop after another. Maybe we're not supposed to know, just feel. Maybe?
Sun will come up tomorrow-bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow?
That's A View From The Ridge...