I was forced in the water 5 years, 8 months and 5 days ago.
She was pushed recently.
I met her last month. Immediately, I saw the ache in her eyes as we spoke; the hurt that hides behind the everyday chit chat and smiles. I know too well how to recognize the look of buried pain that is in the eyes of every grieving parent.
We shared photographs. We all carry one. Some are wrinkled and worn and some are sealed in protective covers to keep them safe. I noticed the care she took when I handed her the picture of my son, J.T. and the loving way she brushed her fingers over it. I silently thanked her for that. I did the same with her photograph.
We parents with angel children understand that the love we send them does not stop just because they are not physically here with us.
Our stories are different, and yet the same. The love we feel for our children. The pain we feel without them. The memories, the "did-that's”, the "wish-we-could's," the missing and the wanting all roll into one similar pond of pain.
I am further in the water than she is. The hot and cold of it, the swirling and splashing is a continual dance of how we maneuver without drowning. The trick is to do it with the grace and balance required to keep our heads above water -and breathing--always breathing.
At times I have fought the water current and at times I have floundered reaching for a life vest. The life vest has become one I wear secretly like bullet proof protection under my clothes with the hope that nothing this painful will ever penetrate my heart again.
I continue forward. I see others in the distance, with well-worn life vests, who have maneuvered the water much longer than I have. I feel comfort in knowing they are leaving a trail to follow.
I turn to see the ones behind me as they wade in, stumbling and unsure if they will survive the voyage. I reach my hand back to steady them as the waves hit, listen to them as they cry and help them position their life vests.
After 5 years, 8 months and 5 days I have learned to swim a little better. But, I will always wear my life vest.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Pennie's Life Lesson:
“Sometimes we need a life vest and
sometimes we can be a life vest for others.”
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