My daughters and I stood at the outer edges of the circle as the pastor fumbled through well-meaning words that felt clumsy and wrong. Around us, hands clutched balloon strings and to the left of us, children played behind their parents, their shrieks of laughter out of place amidst the mourning.
A vigil for a five year old, gone too soon. An accident. No one we knew, but we attended just the same. That happens in small towns.
"He's in a better place," the pastor said, and inside I recoiled. Better place is not for healthy children ripped from their parents too soon. Better place is for extended illness, injury, for suffering.
I've never really been one for the whole better place thing, anyway, really. But especially not now, not this, no way.
My oldest daughter cried into my shoulder. My youngest clutched my arm.
I held them both, soaking them in.
Hands opened and balloons sailed into the sky. Candles lit, prayers whispered, heads bowed.
My arms wrapped around my daughters.
I have spent a lot of time feeling scared - I am scared of so much. I am scared that one day I'll be deaf and blind and that I'll be cut off from the things and the people that I love. How will I get around in a community where driving is a necessity because public transportation doesn't exist? And sometimes my thoughts gravitate to wonder - if I go blind, who will make sure to tell me when my eyebrows are unruly and in need of waxing? Will anyone tell me when my hair has gone gray? (Okay, grayER).
Fear will drive me crazy if I let it.
And I've been letting it.
Part of me knows that it's a natural thing - my life is changed by this news, and it's not changed at all.
But I'm still here.
My children are beautiful and healthy and strong.
I love and I am so very loved.
I know the joy of tacos and margaritas and the perfect 65 degree sunny day and the excitement of the Fitbit buzz when I've reached my step goal. There is air moving through my lungs and when I hold the camera to my face, the world still looks exactly like it should.
What happens if i let go of the fear, open my hands and release the balloon strings and watch it fly away?
Maybe I should try.