Sunday, October 30, 2016

Grace Happens

Do you remember when there were bumper stickers and mugs and things that said:Grace Happens? Someone gave me one of those stickers when Grace was three or four and I used to have it propped up on my desk. After she died, like so many things, it was too painful to look at every day so I put it away. When I moved last summer I found it again, and now it makes me smile. It's back on my desk where I can see it every day.

I thought about that saying--Grace happens--a lot this week. I did one library talk, three Bookstore readings, and eight+ book club visits from NJ to Sarasota to St. Pete to Tallahassee to Brooklyn to Queens. Lots of miles. Lots of talking. Lots and lots of hugs. And bracketed by two experiences that reminded me that grace does indeed happen.

At the Bernardsville Library in NJ I met a woman who lost her daughter too. She found me here,  and we have been emailing each other for ten years,  finding and giving strength to each other on our daughters birthdays, anniversaries, and the dark hours when grief grabs you and won't let go. But over time we've shared joyful things too. Laughed about our insomnia. Smiled about our other kids as they grow up. To hug her, finally, was grace happening.

Then Friday, exhausted, I made my way to a house in Flushing Queens to visit a book club. I have visited over 60 since August, and met so many lovely people (more grace happening). This book club touched me so deeply that I have to tell you all about it. They were a family--sisters and sister in laws and a wonderful matriarch (85 years young). The warmth and love in that house felt like a giant hug. A hug I still feel. This big happy family had suffered two big losses. A husband/brother  dead too fast and too young; a beloved son lost suddenly. How do we do it? How do we manage to sit together and smile and love even as our hearts are broken? When that mother whose son died four years ago told me that my book COMFORT mattered most to her after losing her son, my heart grew and yes, I felt grace happen.

I've been reminded anew this week that writing and reading and loving hard and big matter most. That grace happens, every day.