Everyone is on a path in life, and all of the decisions we make in life change that path, or we can say that the path is created by our decisions. I tend to believe that most people start out on a nice peaceful path, leading to a happy, healthy life. But then reality settles in.
We are a smart species, so we make decisions looking long-term – we decide to go to the doctor to stay healthy, we decide to go to school or college, get educated, and hope that adds wealth and security somewhere along our path. We hope for love and happiness in the pursuit of marriage and eventually children. But we all make decisions about where we are on the path and where we want our separate paths to lead in life.
And every day, every hour we walk that path. We put one foot in front of the other and we walk our path, hoping for the best.
This is the bad part. The unexpected part. The unfortunate part. We get ill. Our company goes bankrupt. We get into a serious accident. Our child gets gravely ill. There is a fire. There is a flood. There is a murderer. And this all effects our perfectly planned out path. They put road blocks up, diversions, cones, and yield signs on our paths. But we still, day after day, follow that path in hopes for the best. In hopes that happiness and joyfulness will be around the next curve in the path. And for most of us, there is.
Then there are those who’s feet have stopped. Those who no longer can see the path. The grieving parents of lost children. Our children’s paths were much too short, just a few hours long. Some paths, like Derek’s, lasted only seven hours. But he was loved and held and read to for his entire life. The mark he left on this world in his short time will never leave or be forgotten. Or Matthew’s path that ended tragically at 21 while teaching and helping others enjoy the outdoors, which he loved so much. Or Jeff’s path, an accomplished, gifted, and successful glass blower, that ended on Storrow Drive in a tragic motorcycle accident. Or Andrew’s path, my Andrew, who’s path ended while quietly asleep in his bed. And the list goes on an on, unfortunately. These are the parents who’s feet have stopped moving forward. These are the people who have come to a pause in their lives, and their paths. The pain of knowing their children’s paths have ended is so overwhelming that we, yes I put myself in that category, we, can not take another step.
Someone has put a wall in front of us. This is a common story told among grieving parents to those who recently lost a child. There is a wall. A wall of pain, a wall of suffering. A wall so large and onerous that you can not simply go around it – it is too wide. You can not go over it – it is too tall. It can not be dug under or avoided. You must go through it. You might put it off with anger, or depression. But the wall will be waiting for you and you must go through it. For some the wall is narrow, and they can go on and live and love and learn to enjoy life once again. For others the wall never seems to end, and although they are living, they are not really living life. For most of us, we do get through the wall, some how, but it takes years. But we do learn to live again, love again, and enjoy our lives and embrace what we had on our path before the wall. But it is a lifelong journey along our new path.
But – our feet won’t move us sometimes. We can’t take the steps to or through the wall. But we all seem to get to the wall, and work our way through it. And it takes years and years to get through the wall and see that there is a glimmer of light on the other side. How do we do this?
As Pam and Georgine put it, there is something, or someone, gently pulling us, gently guiding us along the new path we are on now. Yes, we are moving along the path again, but in a different manner now. Our paths have changed so much, we are such different people now that our feet do not know where to step. We know the path is there, but we can’t see it through our tears. So we are delicately pulled down the path by this force. And we willingly let it pull us. We know we must go on, we know we still have a path in life that we must follow, so we let this unknown, caring, loving force gently tug us and pull us along the path.
We rely on this gentle tugging to get us through the day. It is a warming, soothing feeling that we are being helped along. Sometimes our friends hold our hands and help us along the path with their love and friendship. Sometimes our children help us because we know they need us to move. We just follow along the path, day by day, with the smallest of baby steps. The smallest movement forward. Every step is a milestone, every movement is hard, but we keep going.
We know one day our paths will end as well. But at that cusp on the end of our paths, when we look back over our shoulders do we see black clouds, empty frames and broken cobblestones? Or do we see the other side of the wall that we have gotten through, do we see our friends and family smiling, do we know that we made a difference and that we honored our children’s memories and lived out our days they way they would want us to live our lives.