Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Intersection of Wonderful and Terrible

I don't think any of us will ever forget where we were on September 11, 2001 when we heard the news. I was in civil procedure class during my second year of law school. At 8:30 a.m. on that day I would have dramatically declared that it was the "worst thing ever." Fast forward 15 minutes for some perspective. My brother and I were sharing a car that week (mine was in the shop), and I walked outside where he was picking me up after class. I walked outside and blinked at the brilliant glare of the sun. I recall thinking that it was the most amazingly gorgeous day. The sky was perfect: azure and calm without a cloud. I slipped on my sunglasses and thought there was no way something so terrible could happen on such a flawless day. How is that possible?

Although 9/11 was one of life's most dramatic experiences, I was thinking last weekend that one of the craziest things about life is how something so terrible can be happening at the same time as something wonderful. Last Saturday I went for a run on an impeccable fall day. I ran onto the Lansing River Trail and marveled at the changing trees. The scenery was gorgeous. The air was perfectly crisp as it is wont to be on an autumn morning. The sun was dazzling as its rays peeked through the trees. I was marveling at my ability to get to spend such a perfect morning doing something I love. I was feeling thankful that I was feeling well enough to run 5 miles - my longest run since before my surgeries - when two months ago I could barely walk the hospital halls. It was overall a perfect hour.

A tree on campus in East Lansing on Saturday. Gorgeous.

Upon arriving home I had a text from my best friend that there was a death in her family, and I started crying. You know the kind - the big, ugly cry. I carried my phone to the front porch and sat down. I looked around and wondered how something so awful could happen on such a beautiful day.  

Life is amazing. You find out that you can deal with so much more than you ever think you can. Physical pain, emotional trauma, that gut-wrenching hurt that can come from both. And at the same time you're dealing with something so hard, someone else is experiencing something wonderful.

When I was in the hospital they played a lullabye in the hallways every time a baby was born. Eventually it became somewhat annoying (especially while one was sleeping), but there was something beautiful about it. It was a reminder that in a place where there is so much sadness and pain, there is also beauty.

This week I will travel to Washington, DC to visit my best friend to celebrate the life of a great man who was loved by both my husband and me (and so many others). The next day I'll travel to Northern Michigan to celebrate the wedding of two of our dearest friends. Those celebrations will be very different, and yet there is beauty and grace in both of them.

At any point in all of our lives the wonderful and the terrible intersect. It's what makes life amazing and precious, and it reminds me to take advantage of every moment. Stop and appreciate every golden tree this autumn. Tell people I love them. Smile with every step I run simply because I'm blessed enough to be out there. Surround yourself with people you love and enjoy the wonderful. After all that is what makes the terrible manageable.    

Stopping to enjoy the fall view of the Michigan Capitol Building
  

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