It struck me this morning that each generation seems to have it's ways of keeping life from happening to us. For my grandparents' generation it was entering in to an unavoidable horror during WWI through service and community. For my parents, it was creating the perfect life in the suburbs according to Leave It To Beaver and The Dick VanDyke Show. For kids in the 70's it was a hippy scene of young adults disillusioned by that perfect life. For my generation it was embracing a new level of success dressed in business suits and caling ourselves yuppies.
And for my kids, I realized as I read Nora McInerny Purmort's book, it is pop culture and social media. Because when I started reading her book I was surprised and a bit discouraged at her flippant humor. One of the back cover blurbs says that she is the next generation's Anne Lamott and I said to myself, "you're no Anne Lamott, dear."
But then I kept reading. I started laughing. And I kept reading. And then I started crying. Crying a bit from relief. Because I guess I have feared, as I'm sure that generations of parents do, that this deep dive into distraction that my children's generation chose, would keep them from really living. From becoming adults and engaging in the full spectrum of life. I feared that this next generation would spend their lives binge watching Netflix specials, experiencing life only through the dramatic stories of other people, and believing they need to create that same drama and closure cycle for themselves.
I am sorry to say that I am encouraged that life doesn't seem to be letting them do that. And Nora's story is living proof. (As are the stories of my own dear children). They might spend their time binge watching weird TV (it all seems pretty weird to me) and as my daughter tells me eating avocado toast for brunch at chic restaurants but they are still being called to live life. Maybe yanked out of their over-structured cozy childhoods into events for which there is no rubric. (I earned the right to say that because I was one of the parents who created that cozy childhood for her kids).
And so, I have found that this thirty-something millennial and I have a shared experience and that is widowhood. And I have found her honesty in trying to navigate these waters has made so much of my journey okay. Not because I think I did it better. But because she makes me feel okay about doing it the way that I am doing it.
And now, as I experienced the second anniversary of Roy's death yesterday (two days after my birthday...and come to realize that it will, for the rest of my life, occur two days after my birthday) I am struck by the chapter titled Lean In. Nora tells the story of seeing a psychic and hearing from her husband that she should make a list of things she still needed help with.
Yes I do believe that those we love and lost long to help us with this struggle. Roy has been so very present with me many times during these past two years, always the best Roy, always comforting and strong and sometimes funny.
Nora goes on to say that she DID create a list and on it was the need to find a new place to live and someone to rent their house. Here's here story:
"The first house I looked at with a realtor seemed perfect, and then I got to the kitchen. The fridge was free of the debris a normal family fridge is covered in: save-the-dates and finger paintings and free magnets from your local pizza shop. There was just one little piece of paper, the prayer card from Aaron's funeral, telling me, "It's Going to Be Okay."
After investigating the rest of the property, I found a wedding photo and saw that the bride was a classmate from grade school."
You'll have to read the book to get the rest of the story.
That's how I'm feeling this year. Like the prayer card on the fridge and the title of the final chapter in her book. It's going to be okay.
I look at my kids and myself and our newly formed family who have, (quoted from This is Us) earned our saber swords. I look at us finding new jobs and taking care of each other and crying and laughing together and doing the awkward family stuff that Nora describes. I see us creating our own holidays and "holy days" which are often separate things and being there for each other and I can say with conviction, WE ARE OK.