and i half-shouted over the giggling 5th graders to help them finish their project. They colored and cut and glued and glittered, as i glanced at the rising water collecting from the heavy rain.
the final bell rang and we shouted a prayer to keep us safe, as the kids shifted their backpacks and fiddled with their white shirts, untucking them a stretch at a time. as we left the classroom, they all chattered excitedly over the situation, but i was remembering the last time this occurred: the steadily growing tide that consumed the office and the high school,a wake of recess snack bags and sludge cluttering the normally shiny surfaces, and the resulting wave of illness from the wet clothes and disgusting liquid squishing in our shoes. i put them to study math as i waited impatiently to know how we were going to resolve this one.
at 3:12, the stragglers crossed the soggy soccer field with me and a couple of other teachers, only to find the cafeteria a swirling pool of sticks, trash and a foot and a half of water. We huddled in the remaining sprinkles of the rain and i went to check on the office situation. there i found my other teachers with the director, now past the nervous stage and on to the witty stage, a skill we have from living in a continually negative and unstable world. if only we had known what that slithering pool around our feet was doing just a kilometer away...
now, i don't know about you all, but i tend to shy away from things i KNOW i'm not good at...like volleyball. and overwhelming crowds of people. and resisting chocolate temptation. and grief. maybe there isn't anyone whose really good at grief, but i feel especially unequipped at it. being a very sensitive person whose emotions swell and spiral and suffocate, i become very delicate and...different. and i just don't like it.
so you can imagine how much i was dreading yesterday, as i had to face my co-workers and students after the drowning of a dear 10th grader. that water that changed our afternoon as it twisted by our school changed anita's life as she tried to get home.she was trying to pass an unpassable turn that was running with the current, while my fellow teachers and i were up to our ankles in that same filthy water, laughing from some quip about the photocopier that was teetering on the table. it's sobering to think about just how NOT in control we are, for all we'd like to pretend and imagine.
i felt like a zombie as i walked through the day, pasting on a smile in front of the primary school kids as they had normal classes, tucking that grief away in the roof of my mouth, speaking with care so as to not dislodge it. but when i found myself with those i could be open about my grief with, i swallowed it, stone-faced and cut off. and all i could keep thinking was, how is one supposed to deal with grief? sure there are a ton of books and strategies and 'tools' that can be accessed, but i think it's like marriage and childcare and 'life crises'...they are just things that happen to you in life, things that you enter and depending on who you are and, i would say, how you relate to God, will affect how you deal with it.
as i listened to isaac sing 'alaba' and watched the students maintain vigilance over anita throughout the service, i rested in that pain. i let it be there and allowed myself to acknowledge it, to experience it. to cry and to laugh and to let it drip through my fingers.
i think my reaction, and that of many, is to hurry it up, to get it over and done with and to not let it take up too much space or time. but then i think of the truth that His power is made perfect in our weakness. and though i don't understand it, that it's ok to let that be true, to believe it, to apply it to my life. and not just with grief, but disappointment, fear, pain, loss, anxiety, worry, waiting, trials, tests, growth, change...whatever.
let it take the space it needs. but remember that the One who is in control, is the One who overcomes and brings us out of it. and Who will use it for His glory, which in turn always means good for us.
may His peace and provision cover her family and friends and may His presence be a balm on the rawness of this grief.