Last weekend I sat in church and listened to my pastor describe the restoration of his 130 year old home. His account was what one would expect from a long-neglected house more than a century old: warped floor boards, cracked plaster, electrical systems needing to be replaced. As construction progressed, he took comfort in the massive balloon frame beams that made up the four corners of the house, exposed and standing strong after all these years.
But then he touched a beam and the wood fell away beneath his fingers, rotten, crumbling, disintegrating before him.
As I listened, my mind wandered to a conversation I recently had with the person I speak to once a week. She challenged me to acknowledge that I’ve spent years burying certain experiences and feelings, in the end finding myself surrounded by neat little rows of graves. The problem is that like that rotting beam, unable to support the weight of the home built up around it, none of the things we bury stay buried. Chip away at the broken plaster, dig in just a bit and test the integrity of the beam, and the truth will still be the truth – it will crumble in your hands. Bury our emotions, and they will rise again when we least expect it, back to bite us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those little graves lately, the idea of digging them back up one by one and actually processing those moments, then letting them go. The idea always makes me introduce new topics – the book I wrote! the trip coming up! the visit from family! – and there they lie, the dirt still soft, waiting for just the right moment…
I sat at my computer the day after Palm Sunday like I always do on a Monday morning, sorting emails, updating social media statuses. And then a message appeared. Had I heard? Did I know? She was gone. The demons from the past and the present and even the future had become too much to bear so she simply chose not to any longer. And I wondered, how many years had she spent carefully stepping over her own little graves.
And so I’m grabbing a shovel and I’m digging in. The zombie apocalypse is now and I plan to get out alive.