Before

Clouds

Hours before I heard the news of the elementary school tragedy that sent many of us into a place of questions with no easy answers and the mixed up emotions of fear, anger and grief, I stood by the bed in the recovery room whispering to my 6-year-old, rubbing his arm, offering him a lick of a yellow popsicle and telling him he did a great job in surgery. The bed rail created a barrier between him and me, and I rattled it without thinking, trying to get it out of the way. I wanted to get closer. To sit on the edge of the bed.

Finally, my words caught up with my desire. "Would it be okay if I lowered this?" I asked the nurse.

"Here," she said, pointing to the plush, oversized chair. "Sit here." I followed instructions as she lifted my 60 pound son off the bed and lowered him into my lap, covering us with warm blankets. Dillon wiggled himself into place, letting me hold him like I used to hold him when he was a baby.

I felt every tight place in my body relax. The feeling was pronounced. Tingly. I want to live in that space. That invisible place where truth and peace reside. The place where I feel the most grounded and connected to everything that matters.

"Are you asleep?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Can we go home?"

"Soon."

I was ready to go home, too. We had gotten up at 5:00 am and had arrived at the outpatient surgery center at 6:45. At 7:30, he cried when I pried his fingers from my arms and they wheeled him through the double doors to the operating room. Less than an hour later, the doctor who had cut the muscle in my son's eye came out and told us everything was fine. The surgery to keep Dillon's strabismus under control went exactly as expected.

Even then, even before, I noted how something that—on the surface—seems like a really big deal (a child, anesthesia, the cutting of eye muscles), is really not that big of a deal. We know this doctor. He has cared for our child for years. He performs this exact same surgery all the time.

I also noted how much trust we had placed in everyone who handled Dillon. We trusted they were prepared. Alert. Ready. And they were.

After:

On another spot on the map, things were not okay. They were so the opposite of okay that I was flooded with words in my inadequate attempts to process it, and words fell flat.

But, probably, what I want to say is this:

I can imagine. I know how easily it could have been me, or you. And then I can't fathom it.

But, I do remember what it felt like before. I can't let myself forget. Regardless of the darkness that surrounds and threatens to strip every sense of security and hope and peace I have.

My life has not been stripped of light, soit's my responsibility to be light. It's my responsibility to strive to live in that invisible space where truth and peace reside. The place where I feel the most grounded and connected to everything that matters.

As long as I can. As long as I am able. As long as life allows me to live in the before. I must.