The world is burning yet the sun still shines. Smoke singes my nostrils, entangles itself in my unwashed hair. I drive the kids to school, an ominous glare in the sky. The traffic is as thick as the smoke. We are late. Then Sweet Child O’Mine comes on the radio and what else can we do but crank it up and belt it out?
This is life right now: we are all living and dying. We are singing and crying. We are hunkering down with buttered toast and cups of coffee and dancing wildly in the kitchen together to Rihanna. My heart crumbles because cancer courses through the bodies of people I love and my heart swells because the six year old learned to read. I am relieved when my teenager texts me from school to pick her up in the middle of the day because it’s all just too much and I am worried she will fall behind if she misses just one class. My 7th grader wades through the social morass of middle school then comes home and nails the riff to Crazy Train, a gorgeous grin on her beaming face.
None of this is okay. Not the president or the natural disasters. Not the destruction of our homes and cities or the senseless deaths from gun violence and prejudice. Not the daily injuries of growing up or the shifts of time that define growing old. It is overwhelming. It is sometimes unbearable. It is not how I imagined my life to be. Then again, the world right now is unimaginable.
I have not given up because even as I wallow in the very center of the hopelessness, I cannot escape hope. There are glimmers of beauty and new strains of love glowing through the darkness. My golden roses still make their way from bud to bloom. The dog wags her tail. My husband and I are in constant touch, by phone and text and talk. In the last three days, each one of my daughters has reached for my hand over and over again.
I wish I could say these acts of hope were enough to convince me that the world’s reckless spinning is a simple aberration that will soon be righted, but they are not. Denial is not what hope is made for. The time for pretending that “everything will be okay” is over. Everything might not be okay. The losses are staggering and still miracles abound in the most ordinary ways: kitchen dance parties, a rising sun, hands holding hands.
It’s never been easy for me to bear the full weight of my own heartache. Here I am though, unable to escape it. I’m not sure if I’m just too worn out to do the hard work of fighting it or if I’m simply willing to feel it now. I do know that the only way to the light is through the chaos. The only way to see the extraordinary beauty of my ordinary life is to let the darkness in too. And I am oh so desperate for that light, even if it’s the smoke-streaked glow of a sun on fire.