I leave work at 8a.m., an hour early because the lady on the phone at Victory Nissan said to bring my car in first thing.  The two mechanics lean into the engine, find a transmission hose plugged into the charcoal canister and plug the loose vacuum hose in its place.  That’s the not the problem though, they say, a cylinder is missing, and we can’t figure out what’s wrong until we can plug it into the computer.  I say I wish I could, thanks so much, how much do I owe you, and they dip their chins toward the ground and wave me away.  No charge.  The younger one looks at me like there was something he needed to remember in my face.

When I walk into the coffee shop — an hour to burn before I have to be at my other job — they’re playing Mumford & Sons’ The Cave (my current favorite) over the stereo system. They’re saying “I’ll find strength in pain, and I will change my ways — I’ll know my name as it’s called again” — and last night Jo and I watched the thirty-minute local news special on my friend and neighbor’s son Henry who overdosed and died earlier this year, so I thought about pain and suffering all night long.  I thought about my brother, my family, Katie’s family, all night long.

The realities of living (that if you love, you will die, and if you don’t love, you will die) come home to me from time to time.  Another reality, that if you love, you will live even though you die, is as stern as any other.  But it is warm, and is blowing the wind of eternity into my soul.  I don’t know when the next catastrophe will fall.  Maybe it will fall like a comet (crowds of us standing and watching it come, for weeks) or like a feather (no one, even after,  knowing what happened), but I recognize it.  And I recognize the kind of living that can be crafted out of pain, I recognize it in Howard Field, for instance, and Chris Headrick.  I recognize that I will change my ways, and that my name will change.  Someday I may become Anna-Laura-Who-Lost-a-Daughter or Anna-Laura-Who-Still-Has-Cancer … and someday I may become Anna-Laura-Who-is-Beautiful-Inside-of-Grief.

I’m not asking for catastrophe, though, not trying to be morbid.  But it’s too insane to be in denial about this.  I was about to say, I’d rather meet Death and invite him into my living room for a cup, say goodbye, see you later, and then be able to say to myself, “I know that guy,” than to imagine he’s not real and then find him one day breaking all the glass in my house and setting a bomb on the kitchen table.  But I’m so young, I don’t even know what I’m talking about.  All I can say is that I want to know the truth.  And go from there.  Because the truth, I have to believe — whatever it may turn out to be — will set us free.  Two quotes from Jesus in one blog … that’s serious.

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