Bob and I watched Sully last weekend. I knew less about the crash and the investigation that followed it than I thought I did. I couldn’t figure out why until the full date was stated: January 15, 2009. For the 155 folks on Flight 1549, that was the best day ever. It was a great day.
For me, it was the day my son died. The worst day I could have imagined. And if it all ended at that point, there would be nothing to write about. Of course it did feel like the world should stop. When I first got sober, I thought I could endure any loss except the death of one of my children. That, I believed, would be the day I would need to blot away reality, numb the pain, stop thinking.
That didn’t happen. Life kept rolling on and I kept rolling with it. The love of family, friends, and God sustained me. I think it’s like having an artificial knee; it isn’t natural and there’s always a reminder of that fact. It isn’t natural for a parent to lose their child and it will never feel normal. Can I keep walking through life, laugh and love and celebrate? Of course I can. But there is always a little sliver of pain that festers and reminds me that something isn’t right.
I stumbled onto this poem yesterday and it reminded me of that time and the days, years that followed. It is by Rainer Marie Rilke, from Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.
“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.”
Sometimes just breathing is a prayer.