It’s been a little bit longer than I’d like to go between posts, but I have a good reason. I promise. I’ve been on vacation! I brought my computer along to get some writing in, but I think I might have opened the thing once. So no writey writey on the bloggy bloggy.
My grandparents live on a farm in Illinois so to the farm we went! I love everything about the place. Even the fact that I don’t get cellphone reception. It’s freeing. It’s a different pace of life. It’s a place of healing and peace and a house full of love and acceptance. It’s perfect.
So instead of blogging, I spent some time learning the ropes out there. I learned how to mow the orchard, spray the fruit trees for bugs, wire the shed for electricity, paddle a rowboat, drive the 4 wheeler, and much much more. I even have several ugly bruises to show for my hard work. I loved working outside. It’s very rewarding to see a freshly mowed orchard and bright lights come on in a previously dim shed. I felt like I was productive. Contributing. A member of the family. Not just a visitor.
I was also quite sweaty.
But it wasn’t all roses. My grandfather is very very sick. And I don’t really want to write about it. But it’s what I do to process things. I write.
It’s hard to see my grandfather struggle for every breath he takes. It’s hard to watch other loved ones care for him. With tears in their eyes. It’s hard to go to bed not knowing what you’ll wake up to. It’s hard to sleep when you have no idea what’s going on in the room down the hall. It’s hard to say goodbye knowing it’s probably forever. It’s just hard.
People ask me how it is getting back to “real life.” They mean work and stuff. I know that. But I feel like my vacation was real life. I worked hard and watched a loved one fight for his life. It doesn’t get much more real than that.
Real. What is real? It reminds me of a Harry Potter quote. Harry Potter asks Dumbledore whether what is going on is real or happening inside his head. Dumbledore replies, “Of course it’s all happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
What is real?
It’s everything. Everything is real.
Just thinking something makes it real. Real doesn’t mean right. Lots of real things can be wrong. I can have a crazy thought. It’s wrong. But it’s still real. It’s very existence makes it real.
It’s an interesting way of looking at things. I think it makes me feel a little bit less crazy. It means I’m not just making things up. The crazy things that pop into my head aren’t crazy. They’re real. To me, real is the opposite of crazy. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be real than be crazy. Even if the real is tough.
While the concept of real can be freeing, it can also be pretty difficult. Admitting things are real can be scary. It means coming face to face with the tough stuff. The fact that you might be failing at something. That you have made a poor choice. That you are sick. That you are battling a demon. That a loved one is dying. That’s heavy stuff, guys.
Real life. It’s both beautiful and tragic. Like all the best stories. Our lives are stories, after all. Each season is a chapter and each person is a character. Some play bigger roles than others. Some you latch onto and love with all your heart. And you don’t always know what’s going to happen. And sometimes the things that happen are really sad. Not all stories have happy endings. But a book is real. You can hold it in your hand. You can feel the weight of the paper. It’s real.
This story is a real one and right now it’s tragic. But we don’t throw the tragic stories away. Some of the greatest literary pieces are tragedies. There will be other chapters. Other characters. Other twists and other turns. And that kind of makes it even more sad. I don’t want another chapter if it doesn’t include one of my favorite characters. It’s just too much to think about. The air gets too heavy. I don’t want a new character, I want the old ones. I don’t want to know what’s around the next twist and turn, I want to stay here. Stay here or even flip back a few chapters. Because I just can’t picture the next page. And I don’t want to.
But nothing lasts forever. We must let go. Even the bravest of characters will pass. It’s all up to the author in the end. What happens next. It’s all up to him. Even the character doesn’t really get a say in the matter. In the end, it’s the author’s vision that gets the last word.
There’s a bigger picture. A bigger story. And I can’t see it right now. All I see is the tragedy. All I feel is the hurt. All I experience is the tears running down my face as I listen to a song on repeat for days on end because it just speaks to me so much in this moment. But the song gets old after awhile. And you find yourself wondering what happens next in the story. You’re forced to turn the page. To find out what lies ahead. Because in your heart you know the story isn’t over. There’s another chapter.
And that’s real life, guys. It’s the weight of the book in your hand. The dampness of the tears running down your cheek. The sound of the song on repeat in the car. The smell of the freshly cut grass. The sight of a hand holding yours.
And sometimes it’s saying goodbye.