Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sometimes the Shadows Cast

"Fear does not burn out, but sometimes the shadows cast by the thing you're afraid of are larger and more frightening than the thing itself." -Elizabeth McCracken

I found that quote in a magazine at a Delta gate in Chicago Friday morning.
I instantly Tweeted it, thus preserving itself forever unto my Internet.
I can't stop thinking about those words. I want to tattoo them onto my hip.
I just might.

Saturday night you lamented all your besties and villagers were out of town camping or at cabins. You were devastatingly lonely with a lot of weekend stretched out before you. After awhile, you asked us if you could set up your purple pup tent and inflatable pool in the backyard. Hey, second best thing, I get it. I was proud of you for suggesting your own adventure. As the sunshine burned into the west, you said you were going to sleep in your tent overnight and we gave you clearance.

You brave girl. You lasted all night until the sun crept back in from the east and baked you out of your purple nylon haven. You went back for a second night, too.

You weren't scared, and I wasn't either for that matter.

Letting you sleep alone in our backyard is safe. It's half-fenced in. Our neighbors are close- we like and trust them. We live in a quiet little town, in close proximity to a quiet girls' college, outside a quiet bigger city, and we're not scared of anything, really.

Yet- there are things to be scared of. Our beloved little town has seen its share of sadness. It bears the unfortunate 'fame' of being home to one of the most infamous (and unsolved) kidnappings in history, spanning over two decades. One of our favorite parks is named after a city police officer who was killed in the line of duty when he was just 25 years old. And, just nine miles from our driveway in another of our favorite tiny towns there was a school shooting where two students were killed ten years ago. So, while we would never say "that type of thing would never happen here," we don't let the knowledge or acceptance of it scare us. We simply can't live that way.

So you went to sleep all alone in the backyard when I went to sleep incredibly proud of myself for not letting fear dictate my parenting decisions. It was a great fortification for me in general- it reminded me there will always be months like this one where life changes in an instant. Where life's best laid plans are scrapped. Where fear of the unknown is completely inevitable. We still have a decision when it happens and are in control of how deeply we allow fear's roots to take hold. And it's never easy. Not one time has it been easy to choose to not be scared. After all, fear does not burn out.

Yet ... this month also brought sunshine. And blooming tulips and blossoming crab apple trees. It brought new babies- several! who are here and healthy and already so loved. This month we celebrated your Grandmas' birthdays and lost teeth and exciting things for Daddy at work. We broke in the Weber grill and sun tea pitcher and new tubes of SPF, pairs of flipflops, and stripey bathing suits. We've lit fires and made wishes and took nothing for granted and looked forward to everything.

And because it bears repeating and repeating and repeating;

"Fear does not burn out, but sometimes the shadows cast by the thing you're afraid of are larger and more frightening than the thing itself." -Elizabeth McCracken

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