Rooftop Perspective

Two months ago I swung on a porch swing in the 70 degree, crispy California morning air. I took deep, sultry breaths. I smiled toward the busy hummingbird, who smiled back in his own way. I breathed a certain goodbye. Not that I’d never be back, but never back to that particular town as it was in that particular moment. All that had grown familiar… normal… to us, would soon be different. Southern California glimmered in a way I’d never seen in those last few days, as though it too was uttered to us its own, “until next time.”

Now I anywhere I sit I find myself engulfed in new, foreign, unfamiliar, and abnormal. Where I am now is much, much different than where I was then. Here, dust doesn’t seem to settle, rain hits pavement at unbelievable speeds, and birds chirp in strange octaves. Everything is different and when I open my eyes each day, I’m greeted with odd minglings of confusion and contentment, certainty and fear. My heart and mind are trying to process, I think, as if they’re their own entities with their own agendas. Their hardwiring is a touch out of whack and they don’t know what to feel, what to think.

In my grappling for words to match these paradoxical emotions, I often find myself tripping over unevenly cobbled pavement and falling onto the realization of the enormity of this world. Here on the other side there are people who live, think, eat, breathe, speak, and relate completely contrary to me. Sometimes, as the bigness of it all caves in and towers over me, I find I’m overwhelmed and claustrophobically gasping for air.

So I come up for air. Most housing complexes here have rooftop access, ours included. I go there often when I need a breath, or a chance to see it all from above it all without being in the midst of it all. I rest against the rail and get back to that breathing space. Up here from this perspective, I can see glory instead of confusion, purpose instead of chaos.  I see a beautyworthy of wow and wonder.  I see the vastness of the earth in wild shades of green. I see vibrant color sprinkled along soaring mountains and rolling hills, where people walk and work and love and seek. And I’m just one among the millions. With newfound breath I can sing over this place, take it all in and rest into those unfound words and unkempt emotions, trusting that the dust does and will settle.

Beautiful Grief


I sat slumped over on the hardwood floor. The sun was shining in slanty lines across the corner of the house that wasn’t in boxes. I stared there instead of the top of the staircase, where the life we built over the past three years – the one built up of 22 years of two people mushed together – sat waiting in a pile of boxes to be shipped off to a garage off Merrill Street. That pile hit me in the face as I walked through the door today. I started crying, finally. I sat on the hardwood floor, leaned against my husband, put my face in my hands, and cried. The weight of reality finally settled into me. It didn’t crush me. It kind of sat there next to me, warm and heavy. There was no reasoning with it, no escaping it, no telling it to wait awhile. The only option was to wrap my arms around it and embrace it.

I haven’t been able to put my finger on what this is supposed to feel like: moving out of a home we knew was not our home; packing up suitcases we will live out of for the next few months; realizing those same suitcases will board a plane that will take us far away from all of this that inevitably came to be just what it never meant to become: home. I think I’ve got a handle on it now. It’s supposed to be like this. This overwhelming, inconceivable grief that has lingered for a long time disguised itself as haughtiness and over-confidence. I have waited for it, begged for it, and prayed for it. Three days ago I wrote in my journal asking God for tears to come, for some kind of understanding to sit in front of me and let me hold it. Today I say, “welcome, old friend.”

Sadness is not an enemy. I haven’t been trying to avoid it, only spending the days trying to figure out how to reconcile with it. Tears and transition are soothing, in a way. For weeks I’ve been in a fog of opinions and cluttered emotions and loftiness that has been overbearing. I’ve felt how I felt in high school: a hot, tangled mess of a girl trying to figure out who she needed to be for the whole wide world. I hate that feeling. So I welcome sadness. I’ll invite it in to chat for a while. I’ll confront this letting go in an honest and raw way. It’s good because you can stare at it and scream at it and it won’t stare and scream back. It will just sit there with you until it decides to leave, in it’s own time. When it does, you’ll be scarred and new and beautiful.

There is beauty in grief, in the cathartic release of tears and the steady stream of letting go. I am glad for the capacity to feel deeply, cry loudly, and embrace strongly. Sorrow is a welcome friend these days, one that carries me through each moment and leaves me stronger and surer than the last.