When Sad Comes

I’m just kind of done today.

Wrung out.

Depleted.

Emotionally spent.

Sad.

Face down on the figurative pavement, friends, and here to stay for a while. A few minutes. A few hours. A few days. It’s hard to tell. All I know is I’m not moving right now.

Charleston, yes. The shootings in Charleston hit me like a punch to the gut. Racism and violence does that to mamas in general, and to dads, and to people who seek to Love Our Neighbors as ourselves. It’s especially tender, I think, for those of us who are part of transracial families, made of members who have whole palettes of colors imprinted in our collective skin, because we know those people are our sons and our moms and our sisters and our friends. Living with and loving people of all colors does this, after all; breaks down barriers so that even we who are steeped in privilege are wounded when our neighbors bleed.

But not Charleston alone, I admit. Charleston alone didn’t level me like I feel it should have. I feel vaguely ashamed of that, but there it is nonetheless.

Charleston happened on Wednesday, and we left for vacation on Friday. Vacation with one kid vomiting, and then another. And a headache for Greg. And a rash under my boobs.

We soldiered on, and then Sunday came.

Sunday. Father’s Day. A beautiful, summer day we spent together glorying in the sunshine on a river in Oregon.

Sunday. The day Brenda died.

Brenda, the mama of one my kid’s besties.

Sudden illness. Gone at 50. Life irreplaceable and somehow, inexplicably spent anyway.

I sat in our hotel room with Greg on Sunday night — in our hotel room with the loud, steady air conditioner and maroon decor and soft beds and snoring kids — and I said, “I’m going home.” Our vacation was supposed to last until Tuesday. We’d planned it for months with Greg’s parents, but this is what it is to be older and wiser. “We tried, Greg, we really did, but I’m going home.” And because Greg is older and wiser, too, he said, “We did. We tried. It’s OK. Go home.” So I packed my bag and a couple of kids and a service dog, and we came home to mourn.

My oldest asked me why. She knew why she needed to be home. To be with her friend. But she asked me why I did. “Why are you coming home, too, Mom? What are you going to do there?” She wanted to know, and she asked relentlessly, the way teenagers do. And the way teenagers do, she didn’t accept the quick answers meant to placate her. Answers like, “Just in case you need me.” And answers like, “I’d rather be there for you guys and have you need nothing than not be there and have you wish I was.” So I finally told her, “I have no idea what I’m going to do. None. At all.” And she said, “OK.” And that is a kind of wisdom, too.

On Tuesday, Rachel died. Cancer, the fucker. Rachel died, even though she was a sister and cousin and daughter and cherished friend. She was also a mama; irreplaceable, yet gone.

Charleston. Brenda. Rachel. None of them my losses, as in, not my besties. And yet all of them are my losses — our losses together — because they prick our hearts and tear our souls and leave us feeling helpless, vulnerable and afraid, and so very sad for their families and friends.

I sit outside on this summer night and the wind pushes down from the mountain behind me, persistent. My grass is dead but the weeds still make a valiant effort like the wind and the sun and Love to keep rising, again and again.

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I sit in my saggy chair and I think about God and why I still believe.

I believe in healing. I believe in grace. I believe in a Love so wild and free it blows through us and knocks us off our feet. I believe in community. I believe in come-unity. Community. Come, unity. Come, Unity, come.

I believe in God because I must. A crutch? Yes, YES, a crutch. A crutch on the days I can’t walk on my own. How do people do it without one? I need a crutch some days, a wheelchair others, and a soft place to land on the days I can’t go on, can’t get up, can’t move much less function. And I need a companion on the days I RUN. Because I run, too, wild and free like Love, and that’s when I want Grace to run alongside me. Love, my companion; Grace, my support. Love to laugh with me, the sun on our faces as we race through open fields. Grace to whisper, “See? I told you you’d walk again. See? I told you you’d RUN.”

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
19 comments
  1. By the time you see this, it will probably be too late, but by the off chance you have time to view this before the next seminar is available tomorrow… http://abundantenergysummit.com/reg-thank-you/
    There are these summits by holistic healing health care professionals and I think some of the topics that they cover may be helpful to you and others that think they simply have depression. After the birth of my 2nd child my husband kept thinking it was depression, but I didn’t feel like it was, I felt like it was related to my health, and some of the topics they cover, you may find helpful.

  2. Thank you for being real and for sharing where you are. Life is hard and often times it sucks, and more often than not, we can’t find any rhyme or reason for the loss and the heartache that hits us like a ton of bricks. But there is One who knows. Crutch or not, he is faithful and he loves you, and he’s the very best crutch you could ever have. Praying for you, that you’ll experience the peace that surpasses all understanding, and that you’ll rest in his amazing love for you.

  3. I am there with you, Beth.

    Here I am, raising mixed-race kids who mostly pass in a society where both being nonwhite AND passing for white seem to put a target on your back. And having a new baby when 2/3 of the world’s major aquifers are past the sustainability tipping point and climate change seems unstoppable. And being too hot and too poor to know what to do with myself this weekend. And reading the news (I know, big mistake) and seeing precious few shining victories for the world I want my children to inherit.

    I am so small and my worries are so big, and it’s so hard to have faith.

    Waiting, though, is something I can do. Because indeed, this too shall pass.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about all of this. Sometimes I feel like there just are not words because sometimes sadness just needs to be, and that is usually when I offer a hug. So, virtual hug.

  5. I’m so so sorry <3 Thak you for being so completely honest, even when it's not popular. I felt the same way about the most recent shooting, and I was trying to come to terms with that in my own mind. It didn't rattle me like it should have. You know, I almost didn't keep that part, almost erased it, but… It is. My family is very broadly shaded. I do know those feelings that you described all too well.

    Also, I don't know how it is that you are ALWAYS in my head. It's seriously creepy sometimes 😉 But just this week I was having a discussion with a VERY close friend, about the issue of attending church. They said to me that it seemed like a crutch for me. No one had ever said that to me, so I had never really thought about it. I did not comment at e time. Although they said it in a negative way I thought to myself, you know yes, I think it might be a crutch, but what's wrong with that. I need it. Reading your post today was just what I needed to hear. Your losses, community losses, that we could do without. Those I am so very sorry for. But thank you as always for sharing life with us. For allowing us all to share with each other. <3

  6. So much love here. Appreciating your words today.

  7. Beth~ I am not one to respond to blogs like… ever… but my heart broke afresh for your pain. I too am a mommy of a very diverse group of 8. Yes, that’s 8! My husband is hispanic, we have four biological boys and then we adopted four kids of varying races. (Did I mention that I’m the color of wonder bread?) Anywho… We were foster parents for six years and in that time we had a newborn girl who was born addicted to heroine. She rallied for 12 weeks. 12 weeks, she fought hard. Then, she couldn’t hold on, it was too much for her tiny body and she went home to Jesus. The grief was almost to much to bear for me and people would say super helpful things like “Well, she wasn’t your child so why are you so sad?” “It’s not like you gave birth to her.” That of course helped loads! So I went into a tail spin and grieved privately for a year. Finally after the…maybe… millionth temper tantrum at the Lord he spoke to me. Plain as day…after an entire year! He said “I knew she had 12 weeks on earth and I chose you to love her because with all her crying and difficulties I knew that you would.” Simple, yet it brought me to a place of peace I have never known. He CHOSE me???? What??? That’s what he said. I believe that He often places people in our path to love and in affect chooses strategies so we love those around us for however long. I still shed tears over that precious girl who had it so so so hard. I miss her and can’t wait to see her again. But I am content knowing that I was (like you too) chosen to love the one on front of me. May your temper tantrums be great and His love greater.

  8. Just stay down until you are ready to get up. I’ll get you a blanket. So sorry for the sadness.

  9. Oh, Beth I am so sorry for all your losses and my prayers are with you. It has been years since cancer took a beloved colleague of mine but there are still times that I find myself mourning her loss. How angry I was at God for allowing her to die for not letting her celebrate her 51st birthday, for not letting her teach again for not allowing me to ever share another great moment working with the same students again. The nice thing about being angry at someone is that they have to exist in order for you to be angry at them so it is in that existence that He helped heal my heart. It is in that existence that He gave me the strength to carry on our work without her by my side. You too will walk again and then run again. So know why you lie face down in the dirt you are not alone and those of us who have lied there before you know that you too will be stronger when you get back onto your feet. Stronger for those who you love and who love you back, stronger to fight back against hatred and the cruelty but most of all to stronger to be the great momma you are. Those of us who read your blog know the strength and courage that you have and share with us. Know that we are waving in the dark to you.

  10. I’m so sorry for all the losses. Sometimes it just seems too hard to get up again and keep on living. Losing the crutch was swear word worthy hard, and not at all what I wanted. However, the good news is that grace, and love, and all the empathy has come with me. It’s nicer, I think, to hate an unfeeling process than it is to be scared of the why, God? type questions. Anyway, I wanted to wave, and let you know that you are not alone, and that it’s ok to take whatever time it needs to get back on your feet and stumble on.xx

  11. I am waving here in the dark… feeling this, but maybe a little closer since it was the bestie himself– 18 years old– with the ever-present grin and the kind soul who drove too fast one too many times and left us in April… A month later his dad had a heart attack while hiking. Surrounded by family and friends in the middle of the trail at Enchanted Rock he too left the world. . I cannot imagine the pain of that mama, but I saw her dance with my own eyes at the memorial for her husband and saw her broken heart lifted for a moment as she looked up at the stars and smiled a sad soft smile and raised her hands… I do not not know if she was pleading, thanking or just waving , but her face at that moment in the midst of grief forever changed my heart. The pain is so hard but the glory so great that life must be more than we know here and now.
    Love you, sweet lady, and I hope you find the comfort you need and the strength to hold it tightly to you.

  12. I am so sorry for your losses. Sending love and many prayers your way.
    The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit..Psalm 33:18
    Hang in there, Beth ❤️

  13. Romans 12:15 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”

    Lots of the happy and the weeping these days. Mostly the weeping. Waving and weeping.

  14. I am so sorry Beth. It’s hard to lose people and it’s hard to see people we care about lose people and it’s so hard to see such hatred. I am so glad for the Crutch. I would not have survived the past few years without Him. Sometimes it takes a while but you will walk again and even run again. You will.

  15. too much.

  16. Beth, I’m so sorry. Weeping with you, and waiting for Grace’s whisper. You are loved, my friend.

  17. I am crying with you. Sometimes, grief is best shared by sitting and crying. I’m there.

  18. There is nothing I can say that will fix this. No way to replace the irreplaceable. But know that I am one of the many mommas sitting and laying down face first in the dirt weighed down with anger, sadness, and worry for what the future holds. Angry and sad and ready to scream at the world where such hatred and racist thoughts are released upon someone’s child, someone’s mother, father, sister, brother and friend. Those thoughts and words that my family and my child face and I will have to deal with how to teach my son to be proud. To teach him that he is beautiful. But to have to also teach him how to act and to be careful in certain situations. I too am a momma in a transracial family. I am sitting in the dark sad and angry at the crap called cancer and how it steals our loved ones away. Those we need and very often the ones that keep all of us laughing and ready to face another day. Can’t replace the irreplaceable. But we can honor the fallen and fight against the unjust with honorable actions and active words that can move others, help others, heal and educate. Most of all not to forget any of the lessons they taught us but to honor them by reminding and sharing them with others. Being there and help stand beside those who have lost the most. So I’ll sit with you Beth. Sad needs to be embraced sometimes. Sometimes things need to be sad because frankly, we can’t fix everything.

  19. So simple and so beautiful. Thank you.

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