It is there in the quiet lament of drooping branches after the tsunami. We find it in the jagged edges of chaff in the harvest. The echoing stillness of new-fallen snow in the dawn tells its story. Iridescent rainbows in brackish puddles of fuel and mud reflect it. It stalks us through dreams, tracking our movements in stealth as we move unknowing away from moonlight. Like the lightning on the mesa, it crackles through each hair like fire, leaving us bereft in its wake. The cry of an infant in darkness waters its bloom in the hollow chambers of our chests. The wedding toast is sour on our tongues because of it. We listen for the quiet flutter of salvation’s wings, and the silence burrows into the marrow of our bones. The chill of untouched sheets bites the tips of our fingers. Where can we find solace when everywhere our eyes rest and every sound the earth makes reminds us of it?
Each inhalation then is an act of courage, a willful acknowledgement of its lack of power over us. We exhale into the grey mist that threatens to submerge us, and emerge drenched and stained, but standing. And when we have gained the strength to open our eyes, we see the hordes of trembling others on this shore, and know we have never been alone.
Today I am grateful for those who stand beside us as we mourn, who hold our hands when we grieve, and for those who have been on that shore too many times and still have strength to teach us how to breathe.