“Our job isn’t to fight fate, but to help each other through, not as soldiers, but as shepherds. That’s how we make it okay, even when it’s not.” ~ Lucy Kalanithi
Bridge Builder, Light Bearer. Those were the words I wanted on my tombstone.
Now, I think escort might be good. No, not that kind of escort!
It’s been my honor to chaperon people across their own life bridges. I didn’t have to build the bridge, but I often shined the light.
Sometimes, like when your sister’s husband dies, all we can do is sit in the dark with our loved ones and hold the light until it catches them.
The bridge seems to form under one’s feet as they walk the path of life.
However, traversing through the darkness—whether it comes from death, divorce, disaster, or simply losing our way—is lonely.
No one else can feel our unique brand of despair in our precious, vulnerable hearts.
That’s why for many years I didn’t let people in. I preferred to suffer the dark nights of my soul alone. I’d saddle up to my suicidal tendencies and keep everyone away from me. Until I didn’t.
Even now, I can’t let everyone in, but I’ve learned to recognize the light bearers. They’re the ones who stand in the darkness with you, shine the light, and fully acknowledge your right to sit where you are for as long as you need to. Light bearers aren’t there to convince.
They’re a power by their presence. They see your pain and appreciate it without pity. They don’t try to pull you out of the pain, but hold your hand while you’re in it.
That’s what my sister does for me—always. Not just since the death of my beloved.
Jayne showed me the light when we were kids and our parents divorced and later, when I was a teenager, she opened her home to me.
My sister has held the light a thousand times.
The light is like bird food. I can’t actually feed the birds. But, I can fill the feeder and let them come.
Now, I’ve become a woman whose heart fills with the sight of cardinals’ colors, beaks and feathers outside my window.
I’ve done nothing; I’ve done something.
I offer food, but I can’t physically carry or direct the birds to it. That’s not my job; it’s God’s, or angels or the Universe. This Amazing Force alerts the birds the food is out and calls them to fly to it.
For me, that’s God. He builds bridges and sends the escorts to help us across the dark chapters of our lives into the light.
God isn’t just in the magic. He’s in the in-between moments building bridges to tomorrow, to our next beautiful chapter.
My biggest lesson: we don’t have to build the bridges!
Often, I have no idea how I’m going to get from here to there.
How would I get out of my marriage and onto solid ground? How could I get out of sales after 20 years? How could I become a writer? How could I get out of relationships that weren’t right—especially when I was desperate to make them into more?
Sometimes falling apart is the bridge.
If those men I was involved with hadn’t let me down or dismissed me, I would’ve missed the greatest love I’ve ever known—sacred, worth-it-all love.
Deep in it, when my beloved Fire died and I cried every f*cking day, when devastation felt like my middle name, God was building a bridge.
My sister—and so many others—held the light.
Earlier, when my sister’s husband died (four years before I lost my guy), I wanted to be the one to build the bridge for her. But, the only bridge she wanted to walk over was the one leading to yesterday, the one that no longer existed.
So, I prayed and stayed present through the black nights that rippled into days, weeks, months and years. I held the light, as did a whole gang of angels—both human and beyond.
Somehow, my sister, after going one direction for 33 years of marriage, learned to walk a new way through the darkness. Over time, a bridge to a better life formed beneath her—right there, in the dark.
Now, after all we’ve been through, I no longer feel the need to be a bridge builder.
Instead, I pray: God, use me. May I be of benefit. Let me shine the light. And especially, Help me pay it forward.
All I can tell you is this: that rush I get from feeding the birds is nothing compared to being a light bearer for another human being.
When the light catches their eyes—after the darkness—they almost fly.