We sit in a small circle in the living room, some on chairs, some on the floor, and for a moment it is easy to believe that nothing will ever change. That old illusion. Lucy plays her guitar – Coldplay’s “Fix You,” Jon Foreman’s “The Cure For Pain” – and we are transfixed. Without fail, when she plays the guitar, I find tears taking root in the dark corners of myself, the spaces easily ignored during most of this over-busy life of mine.
And here tonight while the stars are blacking out
With every hope and dream I’ve ever had in doubt
I’ve spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes*
It is the end of a three-week journey for our family, from Pennsylvania to Florida to North Carolina, mile after paved mile. Now, it is Sunday night, and on Monday (while you’re reading this) we will drive north, complete the great circle, return to normal life. Only it is not normal, because our house in on the market, most of our things in boxes, and suddenly we don’t know where we might be living next month, next year. Suddenly, a crossroads.
“Can you play a Christmas song?” someone asks, and I wish we could go on like this forever. Forever. Music and listening and meandering off into the sound of my oldest daughter’s voice. Lucy gives a few options. We choose “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and she sings it slower than usual, soulful, and we join in. I look over at our Auntie, here from Hawaii for Thanksgiving, singing along. Her life is one that is indescribable, a story of perseverance the like you may have never heard before, and yet there she sits in my in-laws’ living room, a peaceful presence. Our voices rise together.
Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.
Lucy picks the last note on her guitar, and it hangs in the air until the silence reaches up and plucks it down like ripe fruit. Monday morning we will pile into the packed car, hopefully by 5am, and begin the trek north, into the cold, into the unknown, into the future. We sigh, none of us knowing we had been holding our breath. I think again of the last lines of Foreman’s song.
And heaven knows… heaven knows
I tried to find a cure for the pain
Oh my Lord, to suffer like you do…
It would be a lie to run away
A lie to run
It would be a lie
It would be a lie to run away*
Sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell the difference between running and running away.
*From Jon Foreman’s song, “The Cure For Pain”
If you’re looking for a gift for a young (or young at heart) reader in your life, check out my book The Day the Angels Fell, described by Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy as, “Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L’Engle. I read it in two days!”