Just when you feel you are going to break,
when the light-dark of this month
and all that you do to embrace the light:
the birthday party planning
figuring out when you will go see the trains and the Christmas lights
and is there time to make cookies?
starts to feel like too many to dos,
when you wonder what else you can peel off,
you get a reminder to go for a run.
You get a reminder to slow down.
You take a walk, feel the bright sun, and notice the silver-white frost still furring the shade.
Just when you don’t know what to do next,
your neighbor says, “Pulled pork for dinner—with stuffed jalapenos and beer?”
Just when you are cursing this month and wishing again that you could jump ahead to January,
you get a message from a friend. “It’s December. How are you?”
Just when the darkness is settling,
the lights on the tree you did put up, joyfully, thoughtfully
with the stories of each ornament,
glimmer and set the room aglow.
Sometimes, just when, you need help, a hand, a smile, it comes.
Sometimes community is rooted in place, feeling part of where you are.
It’s the librarians knowing my name and running into friends while we’re checking out books. It’s the cashier at the market asking my little one where her big sister is. It’s my three-year-old having a “usual” at the coffee place.
It’s saying hi to all the other people out walking their dogs or their kids. It’s a quick walk around the block taking twice a long as you intended because you ran into one person and then another and then another.
It’s the shared work of clearing snow and helping those who can’t. It’s meal trains when a baby is born and the neighbor who takes your trash or lets your dog out or ties up your tomatoes when you can’t.
It’s watching a high school senior go off to the prom or a kindergartener get on the bus for the first time—even when neither one is your child.
It’s working together on the playground at the end of the street or the garden/greenhouse at the school. It’s leaving toys in the sandbox for others to play with (and finding them there when you go back) and picking up trash whether it’s yours or not.
It’s traditions like first day of school muffins and our neighborhood egg hunt and the Halloween gathering across the street.
All this is my community, the one grounded in place and people who take care of each other and what they share.
What does community mean to you?
Tell me about your community—one built around people and place or one built around shared experience.
What’s one thing you can do to build or strengthen your community today?
Like my son Henry, Empty Arms was born in May 2007. Since then Carol McMurrich has expanded the reach and offerings of Empty Arms Bereavement Services. I am so grateful for this organization and Carol’s friendship.
This November, the group’s blog features stories from community members. I believe that telling our stories can help us heal—and can help others too. Certainly the stories of other parents whose baby had died helped me get through the early years of my grief.
Today, I’m sharing a piece of my story—one about an opening somebody made for me to tell about my baby.
What story do you need to tell?