I always hated sledding. That feeling, in the moment, when you can’t bring air into your lungs as you move quickly, downhill, through space. Everything is rushing so fast that, on your own, you feel as though you lack the strength to bring in a single breath.
It feels like falling.
That split second when you have no control, there is nothing to grab onto, to stabilize you. You are a helpless victim of gravity and speed.
I hate it.
I have written before about falling. About the fear we have of the fall. But I have always written about it afterwards, from the comfort of looking back and seeing that everything has fallen into place. When you look back and realize the fall wasn’t so bad, so far, so long.
But what about the moments of the fall? The dark moments when the tunnel never seems to end, when your reality, your comfort, your heart are ripped away.
When although you know the fall won’t last forever, you also understand that the falling into place may not bring you back to the reality you never wanted to leave?
How do we survive the actual fall? And how do we comfort others through it? Without relying on burning clichés that hurt more than help.
How do you tell a mother her child is in a better place, when the best place, until this moment, has always been in her loving arms?
What about the elderly woman who is content to be through with new adventures, content with the way things now are? How do you put a positive spin on losing her independence? How can you say her life isn’t over, when part of it really is?
The reality is this, the fall is terrifying, it leaves us helpless, hopeless, afraid, and sometimes, even broken. We never know when it will end or how. All we really know is that it hurts. The falling hurts, and the landing can too.
So when people around you are falling, show up. Let them be afraid, disarmed, and angry. Let them complain, scream, and cry. Allow them to hate the fall, and curse the rearrangement their life has fallen into.
Stay present, with open arms and closed mouths.
The child may surely be in a better place, the next phase may truly be a new adventure. But for now, the new reality just hurts.
I hate sledding.
I hate falling.
But I am learning to stand by and watch, with open arms and silent prayers, as the people I love fall, their situations rearrange, and our lives move on slowly, to realities we never imagined.