"But, what would I do if something happened to my husband? Would I pack up my kids? Would we move back home? Would we abandon our plans and dreams for this place and go somewhere safer? What would I do?"
We stand side by side, pushing our children on the swings. We have just met. She said Tucker is tall, and she asked if his dad is tall.
I simply said yes. But the boys, lost in their play and so comfortable with truth, gave the whole story in a carefree, sing-song voice that might have also announced, "We have soccer after school today."
"Our daddy died. He died at Christmastime.
Our daddy died. He died at Christmastime."
Their words sting me. I have never asked them to be careful with such sacred words. But in this moment, it hurts to hear them kicked around.
The boys have bonded my new friend to me; her fears are real. I am living them.
"Well," I say gently, "you would decide then."
The furrow in her brow softens, almost imperceptibly.
"I see what you're saying. I shouldn't get so worked up over what could happen, because sometimes real stuff happens."
"Sometimes real stuff happens, and you will face the real stuff then.
Right now, you don't think you could make it.
And then you won't think you can make it.
But then you'll make it."
* * *
"The family I have made with him are my bunker and my sword. They are another form of oxygen: without them, everything in me would shut down. It is terrifying to know that love can have such power. It is also gratifying."
~ Elizabeth Berg, The Art of Mending
I would add this:
It's terrifying to realize that without them, you could survive.
To realize that not quite everything would shut down. To realize you could still breathe this oxygen that feels so different it makes your lungs ache.
It's terrifying to realize the end of them might not be the end of you.
It is also tremendously empowering.