Around and Around
Last weekend we went to Six Flags. Abby and Hubby are thrill-seekers and rode many terrifying rides. Henry wasn’t tall enough to go on the biggest, scariest attractions. (I believe he was secretly overjoyed that he didn’t have those extra inches that would’ve allowed him to panic –I mean ride.)
When Abby and Hubby rode the first of their stomach-in-your-throat rides, Henry tugged my hand and asked to go on the ferris wheel.
I have a new-found fascination with ferris wheels. While I always enjoyed them before, I don’t think I truly appreciated them until recently. Several summers ago we went to a carnival; I was so taken with the beauty of the ferris wheel, both statuesque and soft, graceful and steely. I took many photos, trying to capture both its essence and dichotomy.
My interest deepened when I read my friend Lindsey’s gorgeous musings on ferris wheels; she reflects about their distinct, metaphoric portrayal of life. Climbing and then, descending. Again and again.
Henry and I climbed into our ferris wheel car. The metal bars clanked, locking us into our own compact space. The spring day was crisp with warm sun. Henry’s solid body nestled into mine and the sunlight illuminated his face. As I watched the freckles dancing across the bridge of his nose, he suddenly turned to me with his signature furrowed brow and asked,
“Mommy, are you surwe that this one won’t go upside down?”
The wind whipped his blond hair about.
“Yes, Henry, I’m sure.”
Our ride began.
On Tuesday of this week, I learned, like you, of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The news sliced through to my soft, unprotected underbelly, leaving in its wake a wobbly understanding of the world in which we live, in which I raise my children. I watch the news coverage over and over again–I guess hoping that if I keep watching, I’ll discover some piece of news that somehow makes sense of the unimaginable, the non-sensical, the horrific, the unbelievable:
Innocent people were injured and killed while they watched the world-famous Boston Marathon.
An eight-year-old is dead.
A graduate student is dead.
A young woman is dead.
176 victims will endure life-altering injuries.
I try to imagine the grief of these families and something crumbles at my core.
Wednesday morning, I ran on the treadmill at the gym and watched still more coverage. Just like I did after September 11, after the Sandy Hook massacre, and after one particular bomb threat in Times Square, when I was just blocks away from a car bomb that was, thankfully, discovered just before its pending explosion.
My mind jumps about and lands on each of these crimes against our safety; each one detonating our collective ability to live and function as we’ve always done in the past.
As I stretch after my morning run, I’m transported to my weekend ferris wheel ride with Henry.
We’d just reached the pinnacle and were stopped at the top, spring trees blanketing the ground beneath us. Before we descended for the first time, Henry leaned into me and said,
“I’m scared, Mommy.”
His small hand rested on my leg, seeking comfort and assurance.
Our brief conversation seems more poignant, now, with yet another filter of pain, suffering and terror altering my world view. I move into Pigeon pose and as I continue my stretching, my mind’s racing also continues. I mentally answer him now, as we descend into this altered reality,
“Me too, Henry. Me too.”
I guess that’s what we do. Every day, with undercurrents of uncertainty and fear clanking about our minds, we climb in.
We climb into our days, gearing up for our ascent and hope for our safe descent. We get up and go into our day with no knowledge of the outcome. We brush teeth, get dressed, go to work, drive our cars, argue, make-up, empty homework folders, ride the subway, smile, buy groceries. We take out the recycling. We experience piercing joys. We see exceptional and mighty outpourings of good. We turn our faces to the heat of the spring sun. We hug our children. We hope that as the sun descends on our days, those we love will come back into our arms. We have days when they don’t. We ache, grieve and fall apart.
Although we revel in exhilaration as the car stops at the top and wonder washes through us like a wave of tiny carbonated bubbles, we acknowledge, too, that someday the wheel must stop.
Each day, we go on. Despite the fear, despite the horror, despite the inevitable, we go on. It takes courage to put our feet on the ground each morning. Within that courage lies the superb responsibility and privilege of the living–we get to take that leap, take that hand, cook that dinner, lose, mourn and, if we’re looking, note the small, quiet miracles of each day. We live.
Around and around.
We go on.