Day 37

IMG_0297It’s been a sad week here in Montclair. Michael Parlapiano, a 21-year-old college student my family has known since he and his siblings were small, passed away suddenly in Vermont last Friday.

I heard this terrible news in a text sent by my daughter, who was too overwhelmed to make the phone call from college. I understand how she felt. I didn’t want to pick up the phone and call anyone, either. And yet I was so sad and stunned, I didn’t want to be alone with the news and the grief.

Then, my friend Nanci called. Michael’s mom plays tennis in town, and the tragedy had been relayed among our friends that morning.

Nanci and I talked — she’s a professional listener, if you know what I mean — and then we did what I’ve been doing for a month now. We walked.  We took our dogs up on a high road that runs along the edge of town, and we talked about life and death and loss. We talked about feeling sad, helpless, and overwhelmed by the sudden and complete shock and grief. 

There was nothing good to be said. But it was a chance for my friend and I to share our confusion and pain together. When we were finished walking we still felt sad, but at least we didn’t feel alone in our grieving.

Life’s going to bring disappointments, challenges, and loss. We can be sure of that. family

My children, husband, and I had to face two losses this week.  First, the tragic loss of Michael — loved by so many, so full of life.  Then, a bond in our own family that’s been willfully  broken, separating a young vulnerable boy from people who love him dearly.  

I’m sad. I’m waiting for grace, truth, and understanding. Meanwhile, I’m walking. And walking. And walking.   Because I know this much: the minute I walk out my front door, I feel better.

Life is a journey we take together.  We never know when or how or where it’s going to end. The joy is the journey itself.  And the travelling together is a balm for the soul.

So thank you, fellow sojourners. I hope you’ll share your stories about the healing power of friends & walking with us.  

I’ll see you on the upswing.