For Will and his family:
I am grateful to be part of a community, a community who has known you since you were little, when they saw you on the street and were surprised at how you’d changed, how you’d grown, how you can ride a bike, drive a car, get a job.
I think when we are young we maybe take the idea of community for granted, feel the burden of the ordinary, wanting at some point to fly, fly alone and shed who we were to get a glimpse of who we might be. Community can know our stories before we do, putting their own spin on the facts at times.
A community at its best, wraps its collective arms around those who are hurting, those who feel the overwhelming life-sucking pain of loss. Community bakes casseroles and cakes. It sends notes and flowers, and it places hands on caved in shoulders and cheeks against tear-stained faces. It prays silently in the late hours and early morning light, prays for understanding and relief when there is none. A community knows when we have been knocked down, broken, and it puts out its hand to pull the wounded back up, to brace our back, and become a human crutch so we might walk upright even for a few moments, for two breaths, for a heartbeat, to remind us we will indeed walk upright again, not today, but some day. A community breathes for us when we can’t, fills and empties our lungs when we have no strength to do it ourselves.
A community helps us heal, knows that though we smile, though we return to work, though we do our banking and pick up our mail and go about the every day business of living, appearing as though we might still be alive, if only just, knows we are forever changed. We have been to the edge and are trying to find our way back. A community leaves the light on for us, the door unlocked, arms open to welcome us in upon our return.
A community reminds us of when we laughed, laughed easily and sincerely, when we were the best version of ourselves. And a community remembers when we have gone, when we left too early, before the story had its natural ending. A community raises a hand of farewell, especially when it wants us back.
For those of us whose geography has changed, our hearts join the team of “our once was home” community. We join the soldiers who guard the wall from a distance, who call out in the dark across the too many miles to say we wish this weren’t so, we wish it with all our hearts.