I’m sitting in an airport. The planes are going up as I stare at the window. I know they can fly. I don’t question that it works. But I can’t help but wonder how. How do they defy the odds? How is the wind enough to lift them? How can I expect it to carry me so many miles away? I don’t doubt it will, but as I watch another plane gain speed before finally the wheels are off the ground, I wonder how.
I’m standing at a wedding. The faces pile in and they’re smiling and they’re flocking to one another and I feel my chest cave in. The only faces that know my face are 10 years older and they feel alien to me. You knew me then, but who am I now? The girl who lives in the town you grew up. The girl who still walks the streets you once lived on. The girl who’s home is your past. The girl who never left. Standing still on a dance floor trying to fit between all of the moving bodies enough to fit into a city that doesn’t know me.
I’m standing in a bathroom. The florescent lights are washing out my skin and I feel like they are appropriate for this moment. How human we are. The lighting isn’t always right. The second little pink line shows up. She’s crying black tears and I’m staring at my washed out skin and wondering if this is how I will remember this moment.
I’m sitting on a couch. It’s too small for all five of our bodies and the ultrasound of the still baby is sitting on the armrest next to me and the silence rings through the air heavier than any of the words we’re trying to say. “This sucks.” “I’m so sorry.” “The timing wasn’t right.” “Next time.”
I’m standing in front of four far too full caskets. One step at a time, Maren. One person at a time. First. Your clothes were laid out to pass the sacrament for the first time; you were too young. Next. You were too scared once to sleep outside on your own, but even when you were too scared you were smiling as you asked her to stay with you. You’re not smiling now. Next. You are a mom. Not were. Are. But you are now a mom without two of your children. Last. You look right. The wedding ring. The red hair. The slight smile on your soft face. Done. One person at a time, Maren. One step at a time. Walk away now.
I’m laying in bed. The air feels too thick around me and I have to crack the window open even though it’s below zero. The air can kill you. The air will kill you. The air has already taken four too many. My face is pressed against the screen and I’m trying to count until I feel like it’s finally enough. The air won’t kill me tonight.
I’m sitting in my car. The music is muted and all I can hear is the engine’s slight buzz underneath the plea of my own voice. “Heavenly Father, are you listening? Heavenly Father, are you there?” The answer comes as always. Yes, Maren, yes. It wasn’t the question I wanted to ask, but it always came first. Please tell me you’re here. Remind me. Just say something. He does. “Now what?” Now what? You wait. For the next plane to take off. The next wedding you’ll stand alone at. The next milestone you’ll participate in. The next unthinkable heartbreak of a friend. The next death. Or four. The next new-found phobia. The next prayer where you have to ask if He’s listening first. You wait. And then, Maren, you meet me back here. You get ready for the next moment that will shake your world. And then you just do it.
Happiness doesn’t come from worldly things; happiness comes from the spirit of God.