Wednesday morning started out with an early morning breakfast with my husband, and then I crawled back into bed to steal a few more moments of sleep before showering. I had big plans for the day. I'd even decided on a topic for my blog, and had big plans for eating healthy, and going for a walk since the weather was cooperating finally. If I were a sailor, I'd describe the day as a good one for sailing. My sweet morning routine turned out to be the calm before the storm. The wind was just beginning to fill my sails, when my little boat seemed to get lost at sea.
My phone dinged with a text message: "Did you hear about Ruth and Mitch Peterson?"
I sat down, and said one of those ridiculous prayers we know won't do any good, but we say them anyway, for lack of any logical thing to do while we brace ourselves for a blow that is about to strike.
1400 miles away from me, tragedy had struck my little hometown when two wonderful people were killed in a car accident while they were on vacation in New Zealand. The news traveled quickly, and pretty soon, Facebook was flooded with sadness and tributes and sweet memories.
One did not have to be a close, personal friend to be affected by the loss. Mitch and Ruth Peterson were amazing members of our community, serving tirelessly in church and community positions. They were the best kind of people; cheerful, hardworking, service-oriented. He was an eye doctor and bishop; she was a devoted wife, mother, and friend. All of their children had been in my classroom at some time or another at the elementary school. Memories flooded my mind: parent conferences, field trips, and most recently, Ruth's donating her old rocking chair to use in my second grade classroom last fall and a fun homecoming day with lots of teenagers at their house where I was the photographer. My heart felt so heavy with the sadness.
|Ruth and Mitch enjoying a moment of relaxation between activities they'd planned for a |
large group of teens at their house for homecoming weekend.
My immediate concern was contacting my youngest; I knew Bridger would want to be by Kyler's side. The boys are such good friends. I was able to excuse him from high school so the boys could be together. Other than that, I felt totally helpless.
My husband checked on me throughout the day, reminding me I didn't have to do anything, except deal with my grief. I kept checking my to-do list, but I couldn't bring myself to do my housework or baking. I stared at Facebook numbly for most of the day, which I knew was only feeding the grey clouds around me. Although I knew there were things I could do that might shake me out of the dark place I found myself, I didn't have any energy until late in the afternoon.
Finally, about an hour before my husband would have to leave work for his commute home, I pushed myself out the door to pick up some things I had offered to buy at the store. I stood for a long time in the ice cream aisle, knowing if I bought a carton, I'd eat the whole thing. I can't count on my diabetic husband for help in that department.
While I was shopping, Chuck asked if there were some comfort food my tummy would appreciate. He didn't know I'd been consoling myself with his chocolate chip cookies throughout the day. Amazing myself, I left the store without ice cream, but not without a Diet Dr. Pepper. Maybe "drowning my sorrows" in my old nemesis would help, I thought. It didn't.
I had one more stop to make to get a baby gift for my great-niece. At the store, I didn't resist, and actually bought myself a carton of ice cream. And ate nearly all of it on the way home. Don't worry. It was a tiny one.
Throughout the day, my mind kept playing an endless slideshow of faces; all of the people affected by this sad news. So many relatives, good friends, appreciative patients, church members, school teachers and children, playmates, classmates, and most especially, the Peterson's children. The pain numbed me, but I could see how we were all drawing closer together in our grief, reaching out to one another, offering words of encouragement, and remembering sweet memories.
I stumbled upon a post in one of my favorite blogs, White House/Black Shutters. Ann Marie shared 31 ways to have a better day when you're having a bad day. I had already tried some of the things she mentioned: praying, eating (I may have gone a little overboard with that one), writing to a friend, calling my husband, and going outside.
Today, I intend to try a few more of her ideas to push through this pervasive feeling. I think my husband offers a valid point; it's okay not to do anything, too. I just want to feel a little more normal, if that is possible. So, as soon as I get off the computer, I'm going to get off the couch and get out into the sunshine for a walk. I'll set the timer when I get home, and get a few chores done, and read a funny book by Jen Lancaster. And then I'll check in with folks back in Utah, and see how they're doing. We need each other right now.
To all of my friends who are suffering with me, I offer you my encouragement. It seems that times of grief unite communities and families. I pray that we will all continue to love and support each other through this, and especially the Peterson children. When the seas of life get stormy, we sometimes have to ride through the choppy waters to reach the calm shores again. Here's hoping we'll all find ourselves sailing smooth waters again soon.