A couple of nights ago, I walked back inside my grandma’s house to find this little feller (that’s Indiana talk for fellow) hanging out on a window. We’d just been sitting out on the porch, my mom and I, watching evening turn to night and talking about life. In my family, there’s a lot of talking about life that happens at this time of day, and weather and mosquito permitting, it usually happens on a porch swing.
I’m back home in Indiana for a while. My grandma’s been sick and in the hospital twice in the past two weeks. The first time prompted my return from Minnesota. The second time, I was the one who was with her when her left arm went all tingly and numb and she started seeing flashes of light. She felt weak, and I felt helpless.
We don’t really have control over very much in this life, a statement that feels more and more true as we watch the events of recent weeks and months and years unfold. Our world is churning, swelled with anger and fear, and violence is becoming commonplace. I don’t pretend to understand it because I don’t. All I know is that each time I hear about another life taken away, my heart aches. It aches for the people who die, but maybe even more for everyone who’s left. The children. The husbands and wives. The parents and grandparents. The girlfriends and boyfriends. The friends and neighbors and coworkers and siblings and nieces and nephews and acquaintances and the rest of us whose lives are changed by each and every loss.
I don’t have any answers, but I do have a wish. Before another trigger is pulled, I wish the people holding the guns could stop for just a moment and imagine it’s someone they love in the path of that bullet, someone without whom their life would be fundamentally different. Because regardless of what the person on the other end of that barrel looks like or says or thinks or believes, or even what he’s done or not done or might be about to do, he’s loved by someone. He’s the most important person in the world to someone. And someone’s life is going to be fundamentally different without him here.
Like mine would be without my grandma.
I told her to squeeze my hand. She couldn’t. I helped her sit down and called my mom who had just been through this a week ago.
Three days and a bunch of amazing doctors and nurses later, we brought her home from the hospital. As I’m writing these words, she’s sitting in the chair next to me reading the paper. We know more about what’s wrong and what to do next time if the symptoms return. But for now, she’s okay.
Even with everything going on here lately, life still feels less complicated at my grandma’s. We pick veggies from the garden for our supper and watch the evening sky change from blue to orange to purple. Then, it’s time for sitting in the porch swing, waiting for the first stars to come out and the night frogs to begin their moonlight serenade. As I sit there listening and watching and being with my mom and grandma, two of the most important people in the world to me, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming swell of gratitude. Because in this world of uncertainty, we somehow made it to this place and this moment.
And we’re here, together.