the bright side

Some of the recent events of my life have made me think of this specific lyric:

Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true

But then, since it’s such a catchy tune, the rest of the song shows up:

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I mean, the whole song is on the money. Life IS a piece of shit. Absolute shit happens to good people, to loved ones, and you can’t do a damn thing about it except show up. Unfair things happen and yet no one ever said any of this is fair. Tragedy befalls people, they lose everything, a simple step off a curb turns into the end of it all, a quick trip to the grocery store is the last trip ever made, he suddenly leaves her with no warning, or she suddenly leaves him. A little cough, or an ache in the side, turns out to be the big bad thing and you never saw it coming. A little kid is born into a family that will brutalize and then kill her. Another little kid is born in a refugee camp. Another little kid is trying to stay alive in some other dread setting . . . and the handful of people who own everything don’t give a shit — and in fact, blame those people if you can parse their bullshit language.

But the other part of the song is on the money too! There is a bright side. We show up for each other, again and again and again. We show up even though (maybe especially though) there isn’t anything we can do. There isn’t anything we can say. If you think about it, isn’t that what makes it remarkable? That despite our misery over being unable to fix things for people we love, we show up anyway. I just find that so overwhelming at times, I cry in wonder.

Something surprising and bad happens, and people call. People write and say, “I have this access, how can I help?” Or “I’ve had this experience, let me share what I learned.” Or “I know someone, let me hook you up with her.” Or a complete stranger writes, “Our mutual friend told me, let me help because the same thing happened to me.” Or “Let me have all the books on this topic shipped to you, what’s your address?” Or “I love you.”

I think THAT is the bright side. Sometimes it’s dark and sometimes it gets even darker, and then sometimes you only thought it was dark but it gets darker still. The bright side is that people are all around you, and some may have been in this dark place already, and most haven’t but they’ll go inside with you, so you don’t have to be there all by yourself.

darknessIs anything really different? Isn’t the Big Bad Thing still there? It is.

Is anything really different? YES. You aren’t there alone.


Thank you to everyone who reads this for keeping me company. Sometimes you stand in the light with me, and sometimes you show up when it’s dark. Even if all you do is read my words, you are showing up with me. One thing I never quite get is that people comment on my honesty, my willingness to be vulnerable — and the reason I don’t get it is that I’m not doing anything that’s at all hard, or that requires courage, or that is in any way noteworthy to me because it’s just how I am, in the same way that I’m tall and have brown hair and blue eyes and a great big smile. So take this honesty as truth . . . ok, maybe just my truth but I don’t think so: Just showing up for someone is everything. Don’t be afraid to do that because “you don’t know what to say.” Sometimes there simply isn’t anything to say, and if there were don’t you think they’d have said it already? Show up anyway. Sometimes there isn’t anything to do, and sometimes what there is to do feels so insignificant that you feel embarrassed to offer. Show up anyway. Offer the insignificant help anyway. Show up for family, for friends, for acquaintances, for strangers. Show up willing not to have answers, not to fix things, but simply to be there.

Today is my son’s 29th birthday, and another time when he won’t respond to my birthday wishes. Last Sunday was another Mother’s Day I didn’t hear from him. Today marks another year of his absence from the life of our family. I grieve without the finality of grief — grateful for the fact that nothing is final! What there is to say has already been said to me (and by me, for that matter). I’m so sad, it’s hard to bear it but I will. The troubles that are befalling my friends and my loved ones are hard to accept, and my inability to make it all OK is hard to bear but I will. It’s what there is to do.


6 thoughts on “the bright side”

  1. I wish I could hug you in person. And sit around talking with a cup of coffee. Because you are right….sometimes we just need someone to show up. Especially on those days when it’s hard to remain standing. I am thinking of you and love you to pieces.

    1. <3 my dear Becci, I know you're there, you show up with and for me all the time.....although actually sitting together with a cup of coffee (and knitting....and then some wine later or something...) now that would be MAGNIFICENT. The one good thing about Mother's Day and Will's birthday being so close together, sometimes even on the same day, is that the pain and numbness is all clumped together, a burst of agony at once to be borne and moved through, and then it's gone until the next day. I say that with a wry smile and a scarred heart.

      I love you to pieces too, always. xo

  2. The sheer force of love is a pretty incredible thing. When life seems impossible, love seems to show up and somehow the terrible seems bearable. I will always be so very grateful for you, Lori, because you are love and you always show up. How blessed we all are to have you in our hearts and lives. Precious you. xoxoxo

    1. That is exactly true — love is a force, a sheer force, and powerful. Sometimes the trouble is so bleak you can’t see the love that surrounds you, but when it eases up a bit you see all the hands that were holding you up. It was like that for me when Gracie died. I remember your hands holding us up then, and holding me up every single day. xoxoxo

  3. You always show up. Your loyalty is one of your defining characteristics. It’s a beautiful thing … you help make tough times bearable xxxx

    1. I always want to show up, and intend to show up, but sometimes I fail and those moments sting me. If I’ve helped make any of your tough times bearable, I just consider that I’m returning a favor. xxxx

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