I took my friend to dinner with us the other night. Sometimes I can’t quite handle the space between home and bed time when I am on my own, so I tempt my childless friends to dinner with me and the girls by offering to pay for their meal. On her way out of the door she looked me in the face and said “I hope you have the time to be sad.”
I am up with my grandmother grieving like this family does. We touch each other a lot. We pick at each other about dumb things. We insist on being in the same room. We make mildly inappropriate jokes. (My sister suggested to my grandmother that they better use the Bible verses about sexual purity at the memorial service to remind my 89-year-0ld grandmother of her moral responsibilities in her new-found singleness. Later I heard my grandma tell a visitor that if she marries again that he has to be “healthy and wealthy, I’ll tell you that much right now.”) Often our laughter runs right into our tears and our tears run right through our laughter. I keep forgetting to not put on mascara. There really isn’t much point.
Christian is holding down the fort beautifully, but the world is swirling around us. When I called this morning our washing machine had broken and the Rooster had already spilled his coffee. Chaos is the standard at the Norman house these days. I am told it too shall pass as the girls get older, and one day I will long for it back. I am trying hard to believe that.
In the midst of the washing machine fiasco I suggested that perhaps it was Mary the Mother of Jesus clogging up the pipes and was told that she had been found underneath the couch. Apparently, after the pregnant donkey ride, the unattended birth, and the foreign visitors, she needed a minute. Maybe to ponder it all in her heart.
I saw a shooting star last night. The stars here are so much brighter without all of the city light pollution I get at home. Jill and my cousin Carrie didn’t see it. Just me. It reminded me of the nights the cousins used to go down to the lake to see the meteor showers my mom had inevitably alerted us to. We used to go down to the beach and then tell my mom she had to go up to the house so we could lay on the picnic tables and have exclusive cousin time.
We would lay on those picnic tables with their bases buried in the sand and look at the sky. Without looking into each others faces somehow it was easier to speak into the darkness, not that we said anything important. We mostly talked about what we had done during the school year. We started a lot of sentences with “do you remember when” and end them with fits of laughter. We would wait for the stars to streak through the sky. But the good parts came in the waiting, between the streaks of glory through the sky we were content to just be with each other, hear each others stories.
Last night I sent out a desperate tweet. When you are tweeting to know what the sign is…that tweet is probably the sign, no need to hit send. This morning I woke up to the Norman Family Creed running through my head. Well God has never screwed us over before. (Did I mention there is a lot going on back home?)
Grandpa was an excellent provider and Grandma is well provided for, but she is a little worried about the day in day out of it all. Coming home to an empty house, eating alone. Those things are going to be hard and there isn’t much to do about it. It must be done. Waiting for her life to change, this holding pattern has been hard on her.
In this life I sometimes do see those moments of God’s glory streaking through the sky. I lie on the picnic table and wait and watch and there they are, sometimes dozens at a time, a whole shower. It is in those moments where I am surest of the security of that base in the sand, of the place I have chosen to lay. But lately it has been the in between, the waiting. I need to remember that perhaps the shooting stars are not the point, but the space in between. We talk, we laugh, we speak into the darkness, we hear each others stories and point our face to the sky, knowing it is only a matter of time before the next star streaks across the sky.