My brother fell off a building one time. I’m not even exaggerating. He was doing a construction job, and something wasn’t secure on the roof, and next thing he knew he was on his back, multiple stories below. “Now would be a good time to pray,” he said, when he came to (a pastor’s kid is a pastor’s kid is a pastor’s kid, guys).
I remember visiting him in rehab (he had to re-learn how to walk; so much was broken and damaged, but he’s walking, and for that, we’re all so grateful). He knew his life was spared. He knew he was surrounded by people in his rehab hospital who would never leave the grounds in anything other than a wheelchair. “It’s like, everything is so important now,” he said, “Like, can I ever really just sit down on the couch eating chips again after my life was spared?”
Which is a good thought. And it’s important to bring yourself to that place a lot. Like, return there over and over again. Where you think about your purpose and why you’re here (I’m guessing not many of us would end up on the couch with a bag of chips as the conclusion). But you can’t stay in the depths forever. Divers go down there and they come up. They’re changed because of it, I’m sure. They see new things and then look at the old things in a new way because of it, but they don’t build a home in those deep, deep waters. The very idea is crazy; they’d run out of air.
I remember when my Mimi passed away. My mom–her daughter–was sad, obviously. There was the business of dealing with a funeral and the will, etc., and there was also the emotional grief to sift through. It was a lot to do at once, and in an unprecedented move, she simply told our family, “I need to watch something funny. Something with Chris Farley.”
Because my mom, the counselor, the person who dives deep with others over and over again, needed some shallow water. She needed a respite. She needed to sit on the couch and eat chips, so to speak. Not because there wasn’t deep emotional work to be done–no!–just the opposite, in fact. She needed to not be swallowed up by that deep emotional work. What she needed was rest in preparation for that deep emotional work.
When I was busy training Luna, our perfect (though our neighbor with the two yorkies who recently mistook Luna’s play for something else may disagree) Labrador retriever, I read that you should always vary training with play. That every dog needs a break from the mental exhaustion that comes with learning, with growing. That every dog still needs to remember how fun it is to be alive–despite the fact that there’s sitting and recall and staying–lots of work–to be done.
Every person I know works so hard. Every person I know goes through shit–lately, I’ve seen a lot of people I love grieving. Saying hard, never-meant-to-be good-byes. It hurts and it’s necessary to feel how much it hurts, but you can’t live there. You go there–either by yourself, or with a strong, safe diver who’s been there before and knows the way back up to air–but always, dear friends, come back up for air.
There’s a lot of ways to do that, but my mom rented Tommy Boy that night her mom passed away, if you need any suggestions.