The rhythm of life. We each have our own beat to this dance called living. Some of us are a waltz, others a cha-cha-cha. Still others dance to a syncopated beat that no one else can quite catch on to. The beat will change many times, flowing with the changing seasons of our life. No matter what season you’re in or even if you’ve asked the drummer to stop, the beat goes on. Life does not stop just because we have no desire to continue the dance. The beat will go on, day after day, year after year.
This has been a season of change for me. Not unwelcome change at all, but changes that must come as the beat continues. Changes that remind me yet again that I am physically alone.
May 14 was a very special day of change. My oldest son graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. My husband’s parents tagged along as Noah and I drove the 15 hour trip from Michigan to Lynchburg. This trip was not a comfortable one for me, I’m not used to being the person in charge of the trip. That’s Larry’s job. We got there safely in spite of the torrential rain, car rattling thunder and lightning that made you flinch when we were in southern Ohio. We found the hotel, we found Drew, we found the stadium where graduation was held. It was a beautiful day in spite of the nearly constant drizzle that threatened to release the rain. Liberty had purchased 30,000 rain ponchos to hand out though, so commencement proceeded as planned. What a wonderful day it was. We found Drew in the lineup and exchanged ear to ear smiles as he walked past us. Pride threatened to beat a hole in my chest as I watched this handsome young man walk up to receive his diploma. Pride that co-mingled with an intense sorrow. Once again I asked God, “Why?” How is it that I came to be the only parent present on this, the most important day of his life so far? My heart screamed, “NO! His Mama and his Dad should be here too! This isn’t right God, it’s not fair! He deserves to have all of his parents here to celebrate with him, not just me. I’m a poor substitute for all that he’s lost in his short 22 years.” God was silent, he’d heard it all from me before. Drew followed us home after graduation and one week after he received his diploma, I drove my son to the airport so he could fly to India for the summer. A small taste of what it will be like when he moves there after graduating from grad school. Not quite the same as putting him on the bus to go to school. Change.
June 10 was another very special day of change. On June 10 my other oldest son (both 22) got married to his beautiful Katie. After a week of 90+ temps, the wedding day gave way to pouring rain. All day it rained off and on. I spent the day getting ready with all of Katie’s bridesmaids and her mother. Laughter, hair, makeup, a bit of champagne… lots of fun! I was okay until I put my dress on and couldn’t get the zipper up all the way. Extreme contortions were required to finish the maneuver. A moment that always causes me to miss my Larry. At the chapel I went back to spend a few minutes with my handsome son Wade before the ceremony started. To say he was nervous would compare to calling a bald eagle a mosquito. I wanted so badly to be able to impart some last words of wisdom to him, but all I could think about was the little boy who tentatively called Larry, “dad” the day after we were married. The boy who grew up with 2 dads, but came to know not long ago that great love made this dad his father. I was so happy for Wade and Katie, starting their new life together and my heart was breaking, … again.
At the reception there were still more reminders of the incessant beating of the rhythm of life. The most touching and perhaps the most painful of all were my parents. It took a lot for my father to get here. He doesn’t get around too well these days. Watching these two people whom I love so dearly, I was touched with overwhelming love and heart stabbing jealousy at the same time. I watched as my mother tenderly raised the champagne glass to my father’s lips so that he could toast the bride and groom. I watched her feed him first before ever touching her own meal. Jealousy would seem to be a misplaced emotion here. My mother and father have been married 57 years and this is an achievement that I will never reach. Larry and I had a goal of 50 years, we made it to 14 1/2 before cancer stole him from me.
Watching my parents brought to mind the changing beat as well. My mother and father have always loved to dance, and I have always loved to watch them. They would glide across the floor so effortlessly, as if they were one being. This is also something that I have never achieved. Through the years their dance has slowed some, but now that my daddy can only get around with a walker their dancing days are over. This too caused me moments of sorrow. These days they dance to the rhythm of doctors’ appointments and rehab. A pretty slow beat.
Today is Father’s Day. I’m at home alone with my youngest son. He’s understandably angry at the calendar for allowing this day to roll around again now that his dad is gone. He’s kneeling on the couch with all of the dogs, collectively looking out the window for signs of life, jealous of all the celebrations going on around him. The beat goes on, even though he’s yelling at the drummer to stop.
Reminds me of one of my favorite Matthew West songs:
“Stop the world I wanna get out, I need an escape away from this crowd just to hear you, talk to me. Stop the world I’m ready to listen, show me a sign, just give me vision of heaven, that I can hold on to. Stop the world I need some time with You.”
The beat does go on, we can not stop it, we can not change the rhythm. All we can do is learn a new step to work into the dance. Perhaps one that includes some knee time… away from the crowd… listening to the One who provides the dance. The One who never allows us to be completely alone.
3 thoughts on “The beat goes on and on and on and on……..”
Beautiful story Shelley, I know these celebrations had such mixed emotions for you and Noah. There are so many times through the years I have seen that same painful cloud come over Steve. He has missed his mom for 44 years now and his dad 34 years. Lost them both at such a young age, and yet as you say the beat goes on, sadly goes on… My heart hurts for you both, someday I hope all the good memories can overcome the painful ones. Love and hugs to you both.
Thank you Jackie! It was a truly beautiful wedding!!! Thank you so much for everything you did, I know they both were on top of the world and so happy with the day. Looking forward to many many years of family gatherings with you!! Love you too!
I can feel your mixture of emotions in your words and I can only image from my own limited experience the combination of love, joy, sorrow, anger and frustration you have been feeling with all these major life events. I just know how I had a similar mixture of feelings this May when Liz graduated, I was so happy and proud of her and yet at the same time filled with a deep sadness that my mom was not there to celebrate too. Somehow it just didn’t feel right.
God is there with you right now, holding your hand, helping you find your new rhythm.
Beautiful story, thanks for sharing what is in your heart.