Sunday, September 2, 2012

Set Me Free

Lisa's iPhone was on shuffle as we started the road trip back home, first Emmylou's voice ringing out sorrowful and true, then Jim Croce, then Tracy Chapman. Each song a well-worn groove in both of our minds, tracing back to Mom, to Dad, to Hunter, to Grandma, opening a space to reconnect to our stories, to process our losses, to make sense of the lives we have been given and to look forward to the futures we are writing individually and collectively. We had been together for a week of family camp where she wrangled her two small people through activities, the dining hall and the sandy walk from the cabin to everywhere. She was, in her usual way, calm, composed, organized and stellar.

When I think of spending time with my sister, an image pops to my mind of her swimming towards me, pushing a small blue raft while I tread in an ocean of water. She's talking to me as she approaches, acknowledging how tired I am but encouraging me to hold on, to keep my head up, to alternate using my legs then my arms so that I have strength to last longer. We lean our shoulders and arms onto the raft that she's brought, letting our bodies float and release in the shared time...stable, cool, relaxed. And then it's time for her to go again, and as she swims away the raft becomes smaller, but big enough so that I can tread, then lean back and float, tread, then lean back and float, tread, then lean back and float on my own with what she has given me.

This is the essence of my sister: pushing the raft out, tired herself but speaking words of encouragement, a song in her heart for the journey back, swimming, swimming, varying her strong strokes to make progress against the sometimes tremendous waves. Watching her move makes me want to be a better swimmer, to take pleasure in the cool water even though its rough. To meet the challenge but not be consumed by it. To have grace moving through the water.

I love you, Lou.

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