In just a few days, I'll gather with friends on a pale, cloudy shore.  When I think about it, this joy swells up in me at the anticipation of being together, immediately followed by a wave of tears.  This happens every year.  I don't know if it's related to having little children around, the distraction of daily routines, or just this expedient thing where I shove my emotions to the side so I won't be slowed down by them--but at any rate, on the eve of these trips I feel the degree to which I haven't been fully inhabiting my experiences.

There was a time in life when I could lay in bed until it was all laid out, when no one clamored for help with her morning cereal or a trip to the playground, but I can't remember if I ever took advantage of that time.

There has not been enough weeping to properly acknowledge the heartbreaks and losses of this year.  I've longed time and again for proper mourning rituals, like ashes on my head.  There has also not been enough celebration and acknowledgement of our victories, which seem few and far between in this absence.

"I can't remember the last time I felt like magic," I tell her.

"I can't, either," she says.  "Feeling like magic may be overrated. There are times to be of the earth, humble and broken."

And so we are. 

This year has brought me low.  It ended my belief in happy endings after painfully pointing out that I was still holding out for them.  A real life ending may be good, or right, but it is guaranteed to be more complex and contradictory than happily ever after.  It is also likely to not look like an ending at all, but merely a passing into someplace new.  Often that place is something we never asked for.

Reality has a conversational nature, he says. We neither get exactly what we would have, nor do we get exactly what the world would give us.

We may speak often of hope and of love, but I assure you--we do not live in a land of pipe dreams.  We live in a world of thwarted plans, heartbreaking compromises and unbearable loss.

And yet, all there is to do down here in the dirt is to hoist the heavy places in our hearts out to sea or into the flames.  To weep for our sorrows and celebrate our joys.  And to keep hoping anyway.  To keep loving anyway.

Even as we limp. Even as we crawl.