Grief and Revelation at the USPS

The beach was lovely.

In every way.  (Proof above.)

We are home.  Unpacked.  Laundered.  And trying desperately to ignore the calendar.

My new neighbor came over yesterday and told me about all the school supplies she bought and how organized she is and how ready and prepared she is and asked have I checked on this or bought that or signed up for this.  Welcome to the neighborhood.  I gave her a half smile and a nervous laugh and told her about my plan to pretend school wasn't starting.  She looked at me blankly.  Not funny.  And then I got slightly nauseated.  (Fear will do that.)  Because out here, away from all that is familiar, I don't even know what time school starts.  I have been carefully avoiding anything in my mind past July.  See how that works?  Last night, in a moment of pure panic, I asked David if we could please move back home...where everything is known and sure and easy.  He just smiled.  And then told me about his own terrors.

Today I went to the post office.  And when I was walking in, I overheard two men talking outside in the shade.  The dark haired man was saying, "...but there were 300 applicants, so I don't know."  The other man was looking at him shaking his head.  One of them sighed.  I recognized the casual clothes, the tense set of the shoulders, the lost eyes, the worried fists shoved into pockets.  I looked away, not wanting to intrude, or more likely, rip open my own wounds too soon.  It's still much too soon.  I had to suck my breath in hard as it was.  As I walked past, I thought about giving him a hug, or at least putting my hand on his arm, and telling him that things get better, telling him that things will work out, telling him that things will be hard, and then harder, and then hardest of all, but then better.

But as I stood there in line, I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I'm still waiting for "better" myself.  Don't get me wrong.  Things are good.  Having a job is good.  Paying our bills is good.  Food on the table is good.  Roof over our heads is good.  Watching David leave the house in a shirt and tie and a smile is good.  

But it's still not better.

It's not even close to better.

And here I am about to send my kids into the great unknown, where I don't even know when school starts or if there is a bus or when recess is or if they will make friends or if their teachers will be good and kind and brilliant or if we've done the right thing by moving them clear out here where everything is unknown and most likely not better.  And every uncertainty and fear and dread I have about the enormous and looming unknown started to wrap itself into a giant maelstrom inside my chest.  I left my place in line and fled.

And by the time I got back to the car, I was coming undone.

Huge, racking sobs right there in the parking lot.

Snot and spit and tears and keening, regardless of who was watching.

And then, as I sat sobbing in my car outside an unfamiliar post office, terror and fear raging their way through my mind and heart, I remembered this quote given by the marvelous James E. Talmage, about the apostles as they faced the storm on Galilee.   

"Into every adult human life come experiences like unto the battling of the storm-tossed voyagers with contrary winds and threatening seas; ofttimes the night of struggle and danger is far advanced before succor appears; and then, too frequently the saving aid is mistaken for a greater terror. But, as came unto these disciples in the midst of the turbulent waters, so comes to all who toil in faith, the voice of the Deliverer--"It is I; be not afraid."

The emphasis is mine of course.  Because those are the words that burned their way through the haze of grief and anxiety, leaving me calmed and surprised.  Because it seems that I am making this mistake all the time these days.  Greater terror, everywhere.  When it's actually saving aid.


And then those six words at the end of the story.  It is I; Be not afraid.  

I sat there quiet and stunned as heaven then asked me a gentle question: Who else would it be? 


And for one beautiful, blinding moment I felt better.

For good measure, Matthew's account adds the command to be of good cheer as well.

Hear that?  Chin up.  Who else would it be?