Perhaps those words still constitute the basis of a decent story. I've been looking over some of the blogs I read, and I see that people are beginning the end of the year routines, looking back and looking forward. I have no idea how to do that this year. I don't know whether I will ever know how to do it again. I have no sense of the who-what-where-when-why-and-how of my life. They all run into and pour over one another, and there are holes where smooth transitions should be. I can't make an intelligible narrative out of my life.
The death of a child is so disorienting, so destructive of all that has been and might have been expected, that end-of-year reflections and new-year resolutions seem ludicrous, at best. My life is an odd and confusing mixture of before and after. I still have two beautiful, loving, living children, badly bruised but nevertheless lights of hope in my life. I have returned to my classes and been invited to participate in events that matter to me, and I am proceeding in the ways that I can. I sense that my priorities are shifting in drastic and unpredictable ways, and that perhaps my sense of what matters and what doesn't is being refined in a manner that will enable me to focus the rest of my life in meaningful ways. I struggle mightily to come anywhere close to what six months ago I might have regarded as a reasonable day's work, and I still find large group interaction oppressive and unmanageable, but at least now I want to be part of things again. The letters and cards I receive almost daily remind me that I am surrounded by extraordinarily kind and giving people, people who in this most un-ordinary of times have risen to exceptional levels of generosity and sacrifice.
I suppose that, in the end, the narrative will be about that irritating sixth word, that How? How do you navigate a life that in the course of one phone call was transformed from still water into tsunami ? How do you start all over and create life out of dust and ash?
Now: Who knows? Not me.
I don't know whether many people read my Advent blog, but tomorrow I am starting a new one for this next year. I'll keep Search the Sea for now, but I'm going to write about the difficult stuff, to the extent that I can, over at Desert Year. I'll cross-post when it seems appropriate, and maybe everything will end up there eventually. Chalk it up to a life too fragmented for me to comprehend or weld into coherence, at least for the present.