Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marbles in a Jar

Last week we attended a beautiful service in memory of my grandmother, Ruby Bomgaars.  The pastor at the service did such a nice job of sharing memories and stories about my grandmother.  And then, he made mention of a poem he knew that talked about our days here on Earth being like marbles in a jar.  He explained that each of us has a "jar of marbles" and that the average person, living to about 80 years of age would begin their life with about 29, 200 marbles in their jar.

Wow, so if I am lucky enough to live to the ripe ol' age of 80 that means I only have about 16,000 marbles in my jar.  (And it also means that I'm close to halfway through my life! Yikes!)

BUT.... Here's the kicker.

Nobody knows how many marbles are in their jar.  So while I may go through this day and the next thinking I have 16,000 marbles left, what if my jar only has ten?  Or twenty?  Or one?  So I'm left with the cliche thought that none of us know how much time we have left on this Earth.

But..... Here's the other kicker.

Nobody knows how many marbles are in anyone else's jar either.  So when we're going through our own very busy and productive (sometimes) lives, and someone wants to visit us or have us join them for a party or accompany them on a trip that may be a bit of a hassle for us.... we don't know how many marbles are in their jars either.  Perhaps their jars are overflowing with marbles.... or perhaps they are down to single digits.  And while I certainly don't encourage saying "yes" to everyone and volunteering for everything, I do think it's important to take advantage of the opportunities the universe presents us with  when it comes to sharing our life with other people.

Last Friday, I received some very sad news.  A young school counselor was killed in a terrible car accident.  The woman was my sister's age and had a gorgeous little boy about Charlie's age.  She was one of those people who had a contagious smile and a voice and giggle that is impossible to forget.  I had the opportunity to get to know her through UNI's graduate program when I volunteered to do tape critiques for the students.  Our paths crossed again when I became the school counselor at Parkersburg Elementary as she had held the position prior to me.  She and I talked on more than one occasion about some student needs and best ways to help them.  We would often see each other at the ISCA (Iowa School Counselor's Association) conference, and we'd talk shop while eating lunch or grabbing coffee.  This past year, she was recognized for being a leader in our field and doing some amazing work with her students.  She appeared to have so much passion, energy, and love for her profession-- which I totally admire.  Of the many school counselors I've had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with, she was one of the best.

And now, she's gone.  Her little adorable boy is without his mommy.  And this is the part that is just killing me.  Nothing about this situation seems fair or right or just.  It's all bull$hit if you ask me.  This is not the way things are meant to be.  This is not what is best for her beautiful little boy.  You cannot convince me that this was her time, that this is all part of the plan.

My thoughts keep slamming into what her parents, siblings, grandparents, and especially her little boy are experiencing right now.  A grandparent should never ever live to see their grandchild pass away.  It just doesn't make sense.  A parent is not supposed to lose their child.  It's just backwards.  And a little toddler, who hasn't even really gotten to know his amazing mommy yet, should not have her taken away from him.  

While attending my grandmother's funeral was difficult, it was very peaceful and memorial.  It was a time to reflect on a long and productive life.  We looked at 80 years worth of photos-- freezing in time moments that were monumental (weddings, births, anniversaries), casual, silly, and fun.  And while it was incredibly sad to say goodbye to someone I've loved my entire life, it seemed to feel natural to let go of an 80 year old woman who has really lived her life.

I haven't decided whether or not I'll attend my colleague's funeral, but I am sensing that if I do, I will not leave her service with the same sense of closure and peace that I left my grandma's.  Rather, I will likely leave with questions, confusion, and anger.  Questions about why someone with such a positive light in this world would be taken away.  Confusion about "whose" plan this is and whether or not I'd really want to have anything to do with a god who takes mommies away from their babes.  And anger about why tragic things happen to amazing people.

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