Today we officially said goodbye to my father in law. It wasn’t a big funeral. It was a small group of us: my husband, his mom, sister, me and the kids. We took my father in law’s ashes and spread them out on the ocean.
It was a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness that my husband and his family had to bid farewell to a man they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. (It happened so fast. Good for him, not so easy for the rest of us.) But relief, too, because now everyone can move forward with the healing process.
I have found that the best support I’ve been able to offer is to give less advice, ask more questions and just listen. This is not the time for me to “fix” anything. Sometimes things just are what they are. At least I’m not fixing problems that occurred from putting my foot in my mouth.
All this silence has given me an awful lot of time to think. And today, what struck me most during the solemn affair was how, in the end, we all go back to the earth. We can strive to sell books or teach classes or have nice homes, but at some point… if we’re lucky… someone is carrying our remains in a bag and wishing us well on journey into the next spiritual realm.
Maybe this sounds depressing, but to me, it takes the pressure off. In my faith, either Jesus died for me or he didn’t. If he did, then maybe I don’t have to sweat the tough stuff so much. Maybe I can grieve and feel those pains of loss, but at the same time laugh and feel the joy because I don’t call the shots. If this Jesus is who I hope he is, he promises something better after the dark fades. He promises that while certain people have gone back to the earth, new life will pop up with glory and color.
I will try and remember that tomorrow morning when I face that same student who decided I was a terrible teacher. I will take a look at this same pink tree as I drive down the street and pray that whatever darkness she experiences in her home she can bury. I can pray that, like my savior, she can rise into something more vibrant and beautiful that brings joy and color to all who behold her.
And, well, if she can’t, I can, and I’ll let go. Because honestly, I can’t take on the world. Instead, like this picture taken last night when I stepped out of a house full of guests to breathe in the dusk, sometimes you just have to be reminded to sit ON shit rather sit IN it.
(Yup, that’s four big stinky bags of fertilizer.)
Bottom line: May you grow flowers in your bullshit this week and make the best of whatever comes your way.
Happily Ticked Off Tip #35: When you’re dealt a lot of crap, grow flowers.