by George L. Taber IV
“It is not our job to remain whole. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, and be born again, drawing up from the great roots.” — Robert Bly
It’s been four long months since we lost our son George in a weather-related accident during mountain phase of Ranger School (see- In 37 Days I made a Friend Who Became My Brother). Like the Robert Bly quote, I am far from being whole. I feel like I have lost all my leaves; they have become violently unhinged in a sudden August thunderstorm and unrelenting gale. The late-night visit by uniformed messengers bearing the unthinkable. All pretense and all ornamentation are erased. I am left with barren limbs silhouetted against dark ominous clouds.
Is this my life going forward forever? Is this my lot? To experience this debilitating grief, this loss of foliage forevermore? Do I have the capacity to ever experience joy again? I wonder. I think. I faintly hope. Silently, maybe I know that the sap, though slowed by winter and pain, remains in the tree. The roots reach winding down through the rock and clay and mud, defiantly seeking subterranean springs, nutrients, and sustenance. Maybe there will be a spring again when the leaves uncurl from their buds and fill out this skeleton frame with new growth and form and beauty.
Can we mourn with some semblance of hope? I think so, but it is hard to fathom where we stand. I am alive and that is a gift. Life goes on, even though I am trying hard to slow it down, to come off the tracks for just a moment to pause, to breathe, to allow my soul space to catch up with the momentous months so recently passed.
Memorials, eulogies, taps, bagpipes, folded flags, Amazing Grace, insignia-studded coffin, SF team-mates, bills, anguish, letters, phone calls, Veterans Day, family, job, mourning, prayers, probate, sunrises and settings, a white tombstone-yet unvisited, sleepless nights, paperwork, walks, memories and stories, tears and laughter, Thanksgiving, medical appointments, counseling, a house remodel, Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, 2023.
There is no pause, no break; there are still 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and the clock ceases for no one, not even the bereaved. While negotiating the endless demands of life, I long to be still and silent. I am waiting to be born again, drawing up from the great roots like a barren stunted tree, which somehow knows in its core that spring will indeed come again.
This season, too, will change with time, patience and hope. Just hang on a little longer. You are not alone.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in spaces of deepest darkness a light has dawned” Isaiah 9:2
© 2023 The Havok Journal