I don’t know how it’s possible to be so afraid, but also know that everything will be fine at the same time. The cognitive dissonance of my situation coupled with the shock I’ve experienced must certainly be the culprit of these extreme emotions. Or, this might be the definition of courage.
My children only see one side of the coin, however, and I make sure they feel safe even when I do not.
When I was planning the funeral the caterer wanted to move the tables in the church reception room. I insisted the tables be arranged as they always are after mass when coffee and donuts are served. I did not want my daughters startled in anyway.
Since then, I have been busy behind the scenes making sure that nothing changes for them. I refuse to even move one stick of furniture. When the unthinkable happened I gave the kids the typical pep talk you would expect. It went like this; they are to continue with their routines as before, and this experience won’t change that, they still have their lives to live, and they will continue as before. As always, they looked at me with their innocent blue eyes the color of cornflowers, and agreed. It was similar to the discussion we had about not touching the hot stove or running into the street between parked cars.
Yet, I am astounded by their grace in the face of adversity. Both are doing very well in school. Paris is a golfer and has shaved 11 strokes off her personal best (nine hole) score from the start of the season. She has been practicing sometimes two or three times a day, but still this is quite a miraculous accomplishment. I wondered what type of focus and dedication one would have to have to accomplish such a feat. Being humble, she attributed her success to a set of golf clubs bequeathed to her by a friend and team mate who graduated last year.
Little sister has been playing soccer since she was five and although she has always been an excellent player she has demonstrated a courage and determination this year that I’ve not seen before. Today, she scored four goals in one game. She makes it look so easy, but when she came off the field she said she was light headed and nauseous. We had to sit in the grass for 20 minutes before she could even get in the car, so maybe it’s not so easy after all. When I asked her what she thought contributed to her success this year, she said it was her team, that they were doing a great job of getting the ball to her (she plays center forward). She is full of grace and humility, as well as courage.
After the soccer game Paris and I met with her college counselor. I was suprised to learn her counselor had used her day off, a beautiful warm Saturday, to meet with just Paris and I. We talked about Paris’ college choices and her upcoming interview at USC and campus tours and visits at Pepperdine, LMU and Pitzer. As much as I want to protect her from all the trials and tribulations that this transition will require, it’s not possible to arrange like the tables and chairs at the church.
All I can say is, I’m looking forward to the day when courage is not an essential component of everyday life. And grace and humility are all that will be required.