The irrepressible nature of life

Some days, there is a need for silence. A need for turning inward, at least for a little while. When you blog regularly, in some ways, you lose the privilege of taking silent days, for the days you don’t share with others, others are bound to inquire about your withdrawal from the public arena.

Our community is a close one in many ways, both the school community and the neighbourhood we live in. We have lived here almost 10 years now, and our roots have sunk deep and travelled widely. Last week, the day after I last blogged, tragedy befell one of our local families. A well-loved neighbour and his 16-year-old son were killed, and their 10-year-old son, a classmate and friend of K’s since they were both toddlers, was airlifted to the children’s hospital. Our neighbourhood fell into a state of shocked disbelief watered with many tears. As a neighbourhood, we have been hugging our children tightly ever since, organizing support for the family both financial and practical, helping our children and each other work through our shared grief, and holding our spouses extra tightly.

Part of learning to deal with grief is learning that, despite everything, life carries on. Meals need to be made, laundry washed, homework finished, floors swept, commitments kept. And so we have been keeping on doing, with a 4-year-old niece in tow while her Mama travels to the far north for work. Life… keeps moving forward.

Part of me wishes we could go backwards, that we could bring back those we have lost, that we could wave a magic wand and make all the heartache and sorrow of the past week vanish, but life isn’t built that way. Wishing won’t take the pain away. There are small blessings, however, and some that are not so small. Huge, in fact. Like the fact that the 10 year old is going to be okay. He is out of the hospital now, doing well, and is getting stronger every day. It will be a while before he is back at school with K (he is in K’s class), but he will get there eventually, and in the meantime, we have to keep on doing the things that will keep us moving forward, too.

Like gardening. Outside, we have been blessed with a huge snowfall in the last few days, much to the children’s’ delight, but inside, I know it is past time to get growing. The ground outside might be frozen yet, but if we are to have any hope of broccoli and parsley and other edibles, we have to start planting seeds indoors. Now. This week. Today.

So, in the midst of grief and sorrow, we worked together as a family to plant the beginnings of our summer harvest, and while it cannot heal our hearts, it did go a long way towards reaffirming the simple truth that, no matter what happens, life still needs tending.

It was a delight to have our 4-year-old niece helping us build our little greenhouse and plant our first seeds.

She is a very enthusiastic helper (as all 4 year olds tend to be), and was constantly in the thick of things. Especially if it involved dirt, and sticking your hands in dirt, and sticking seeds in dirt, and patting down dirt. She even helped clean up the dirt, which makes her the most amazingly perfectly well-mannered child in my books.

By mid-morning, we had assembled the greenhouse and started our first flat of seeds and had even found time to tidy up all the dirt that mysteriously jumped out of the bag of seed starting mix and wound up on the table and chairs and floor. All that was left was to admire our handiwork:

…and play with clay bird whistles…

And ask for the thousandth time “Auntie Andi, why the watermelon not growing?”

Patience, dear girl, patience. They will grow soon enough.

Luckily you, dear reader, don’t have to wait nearly as patiently as our kids and niece. Three days later, we had this:

Life grows, little by little, even in the midst of sadness. And slowly, oh so slowly, our hearts grow accustomed to the idea of a neighbourhood without Thomas and David.

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