Columnist: A mixed bag of happy and sad
Have you ever had one of those times in life where your world is both happy and sad? Days when you rise to a beautiful morning but then remember that you have to face a difficult day? Life is like that, a mixed bag of good and bad, highs and lows, tears and laughter.
Over the weekend I had the extreme pleasure of having my daughter and 11-year-old granddaughter from Florida with me as we drove the younger one to camp in the heart of the North Carolina mountains. We drove up a day early to see a few sites before camp registration on Sunday.
The peacefulness of a Saturday morning mist settled among the green ridges of mountain crests, and the cool, crisp air was a grateful break from the heat of the city.
We hiked along the edge of a mountain to gaze at the vistas below. Green as far as the eye could see with seemingly tiny bowls of mirrored lakes scattered about. The silence of nature was a reprieve from the noise of phones, computers, cars and news.
We visited a waterfall where the roar of rushing water spilled onto boulders below and then gracefully cascaded further down into a quiet stream.
However, while enjoying the beauty of this glorious day, I knew another child of mine was in South Africa experiencing a difficult time.
While working on a wildlife reserve, he and a young coworker rode about 2 miles out on separate quad bikes to check fence line intrusion points where poachers had once entered looking for protected rhinos. My son, Corey, was leading the way.
He turned around to make sure the young man was behind him and to his surprise he wasn’t! He drove back and he found his quad bike had flipped and the young man was lying in the dirt, bleeding profusely.
The reserve is miles away from anything or anyone. Cellphone use is spotty at best. Corey knew he had to get this young man help.
Gratefully, with adrenaline pumping, he carried the injured young man on the back of his own quad bike holding on to the man’s belt, driving with one hand and dust altering his vision. Finally, he reached his car. The nearest ill-equipped hospital was hours away.
In the wilds of South Africa was a panicked, praying son covered in blood, unsure what each hour would bring.
After the initial ER visit, the young man’s father arranged to have him taken to Pretoria where he remains in a hospital today and will recover completely from his injuries. The boy’s family was grateful that Corey had done all he could, however the incident left my son completely shaken and sad.
Camp enrollment was Sunday morning. Girls running, laughing, excited for the adventure that was to come. My granddaughter happy to have three friends to join her from Florida. They were beyond joyous.
While in the line to register, I noticed one of the girls had tears developing in her eyes. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but she saw me notice the tears forming. I took her and held her to my chest. I whispered in her ear, “Sweetheart, don’t you know that after a storm there is always the sun?”
I held her for a moment and then my granddaughter noticed the sadness in her as well.
She patted her friends back and whispered something to her. Laughter returned, the storm had passed, and life went on.
The last time I saw them, they were walking arm in arm toward their cabin.
The juxtapositions in life. The sad and the happy. The lush, peaceful green of the mountains and the rugged, untamed land of South Africa; the child here and the child far away. A son carrying an injured man, and the grandchild holding onto to an injured friend.
I think all of life is a mixed bag of ups and downs. Some days are difficult to get through, some are all rainbows and unicorns, some are a bit of both. However, there are two things that are constant on those days and that will never change: God and love.
We can rely on both to help us walk down this tenuous path called life. We can help our children through crisis if we hold them tight and tell them the storm will pass. We can help our friends by just catching their tears and we can even be courageous.
We can help ourselves by picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and learning from every happy and sad experience we have.
As I sit here and write this I am thinking about my day. My son is on his way back to his home in Colorado. In Pretoria, South Africa, a young man is grateful to be alive. My granddaughter is laughing with her friends in North Carolina.
I now realize that most of my days will always be a mixed bag of ups and downs because theirs are. It’s called love.
And, as sure as the water rushes toward the quiet stream, and the wild animals roam free in Africa, there is a God that guides us, every day, through it all.