An email came through this morning from the public library. Like receiving a note from an old friend, I smiled when the familiar subject line showed up in my inbox.
“Reminder from the Poudre River Library District” – the note sat for just a minute and then I sighed. Remember the library? The travel guide book I had checked out at the beginning of March is due tomorrow. I wanted to get tips about traveling to Canada.
I haven’t gone to the library in months. I won’t be going to Canada – not this year. The time has come to return the book filled with notes on wonderful other places to its shelves.
Instead, last night I sat cross-legged with my laptop nestled in the tiny pocket of skin and carpet and scrolled Overdrive for new Kindle picks. Maybe this static place of scenery – aka my living room – will be where I stay to travel to different places as I read from home this year. I picked out three new titles and clicked download.
The reminders of the life we wish we could live tend to linger. Grief taught me this. The moments where the ache of what could have been needs tending. The holes need breathing into.
I remember, a few months after Dad died, I was texting a friend who also lost her dad and I said, “How do you ever get through this?”
“You don’t.” She said. “For awhile, you walk around the gaping hole, present in everything you do. Then, after a bit, a beautiful rug covers the hole, and the gap changes shape and size, and you walk around it more easily. But you know, no matter what covers it, that hole is still there.”
The pandemic is stealing time from us, it’s stealing people and travel, and places we once loved. We need to honor the gaping.
We also need to nestle in and we get to choose how we tend to the holes presented to us.
Last night, on our walk around the neighborhood, we approached the last two houses on the block and was greeted by one of our youngest neighbors. A little boy with floppy brown hair stood up against the white porch railing. Wearing miniature rain boots, he swirled his legs deep in the grass and kept talking to the older gentleman leaning across his porch, leaving six feet of space.
As we got closer, the little boy looked to the street and exclaimed, “John! They have a dog, just like you!”
The old man raised his eyes to us and winked from behind his spectacles.
“Hi!” waved the little boy. “I like your dog!”
“Thanks!” I replied with a smile. “Our dog kinda looks like the dog on your shirt.”
The little boy paused, looked down, and quickly retorted, “Yeah, well that’s not a dog. That’s a tiger.”
“Oh,” I said, still smiling. “He looked like a dog to me.”
Nothing like being corrected by a three year old.
We kept walking and the two kept their conversation going.
Grief and loss.
Hurting and hope.
Wishing and acceptance.
Travel and exploring from home.
Dog and tiger.
All matters of perspective.
Beautiful things to me.