My life hasn’t seen this many tears since my husband, John, died.
In the last two weeks, I have witnessed those near me experience a historic court ruling, a death of a beloved, and the next step on the divorce journey. In just 14 days I have lifted champagne to my lips in three separate places, had two titanium implants drilled into my jaw, lunched with a renowned executive from Japan, received bouquets of roses and daisies, and bolted out of a funeral service to openly break into the kind of uncontrollable sobs ordinarily reserved for the end of the day when alone in your bedroom.
Life is so big sometimes.
Two weeks ago today every member of our law firm was in federal court to support freedom to marry for same sex couples in Nebraska. We felt the weight of the future for our clients in our hands and on our shoulders. Two courtrooms were packed with eagerness and anxiety. For my law partner, Angela, and me, it was a “This is why I became a lawyer” kind of day. Tears.
This was big for me. I have been an advocate and ally in our LGBT community for decades. This is not the first historic case our firm has been a part of, but there has never been another with more at stake. Sally could die and our state not recognize Susan as her widow. If anything were to happen to Nick, little Alice could be at risk for being treated like an orphan instead of being secure in the arms of her other dad. It all matters so much.
The ten day wait for the ruling felt like an eternity for those who had waited for years for the law to give dignity and respect to their love. The victorious ruling arrived first thing on a Monday morning. After joyous calls to our clients, impromptu visitors giving gratitude appeared at our office. In tears.
And yet, as huge as it was for me, the rest of the world did not stop. The day after the court hearing I received a noon call telling me that my friend Jean had died. A doctor herself, she was diagnosed with MS at 29 and had lived with the disease as long as I had known her. Her passing left a hole in the hearts of an entire community. Again I found myself in one of two packed rooms with people in full attention as we hung on every word spoken. Tears and more tears.
Reminding myself to rest at the end of the week—even the richest life can be exhausting—I settled in on Sunday night to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey. More tears it was.
When it’s your divorce, it’s big for you. Really big. And despite that, the rest of the world doesn’t stop. Surprises will arrive, dentist appointments kept, and deadlines met. Children still get ear infections and people still die.
So how do we navigate the waters of a tear-filled life? I have tried to keep breathing. I have tried to remember that while my life unfolds so do the lives of others. I have tried to remain present to each of these moments and to allow myself to simply “be” in life—full of heartbreak, full of thanks, fully alive.
Today I feel grateful to be alive. Tears and all.