I sit quietly. The warm wind gusts in fits and starts, like the ache in my heart. Some days, I can barely recollect the pain. Other days, as I open my eyes in the early morning, it’s still hard to breathe. I can never tell when the winds of sorrow are going to blow. They come from out of nowhere and leave as quickly as they came, unannounced.
Birds sing in the branches. Some days, their song reminds me of being a carefree little girl, running through the shallow water of Georgian Bay. Today, they remind me of The Thornbirds. That was my mother’s favourite story when I was young. I never realized how sad it was until I was older. The story’s title refers to a mythical bird who, from the moment it hatches, seeks out a tree branch with the perfect thorn. When it finds the thorn, it impales itself, and sings the most beautiful song that can be heard, as it dies.
Like I said, sad story. It would have probably given me some pretty good insight into my mother’s heart, had I been old enough to understand.
There’s some truth to it, though. Although I tend to believe in happy endings. I think the most beautiful life-songs I have heard have risen in the wake of tragedy. Not every painful event ends in something redemptive—not at all. But some do. That has been the case for me.
A group of distant cousins sit around a fire-lit room. They haven’t seen each other since they were kids, but their grandfather’s passing has brought them back together. Friendships are reforged and foundational memories are reminisced. Life from death.
A mother and father prepare to bury their first born daughter. They kiss her silent temple for the last time here on earth. Their ribs strain to hold their broken hearts together. Old friends come close. The frivolity of yesterday’s worries are exposed. And, after a little while, like a torn muscle, their hearts begin to heal and form something bigger than they were before. Capable of deeper love, greater understanding, and dreams that never would have found a place there.
Sometimes, I find it difficult to understand God, and why he allows some of the pain all around us. As a mother, my instinct is to protect my children from all harm. I want them to live a life without pain.
But when I think about it, there is something I want for them even more. I want them to live a life without fear. And I want them to live a life absorbed in love. Sometimes, the only way for us to get there—to that fearless, love-filled place—is to go through suffering. It breaks away the trivial things the world has pasted to our souls. It loosens our grip on the demands we’ve made of life. And it ushers in a new way of living, like the birth of a child.