If you're a language lover, if you've studied language, particularly languages other than your own, and even if you're not and you haven't, you've had that experience where an everyday phrase suddenly sounds odd or takes on a new meaning. For instance, this year I have many times thought of the phrase "Make do and mend." It's about thrift, of course, and using what you've got. Like "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." But at some point during the year, I started thinking of it as, "By making do with what you've got, by being creative and adventurous in a humble way, you'll mend what's worn or broken on the inside." It's become a sort of personal motto for me when I feel dreary about what we don't have. And maybe someday I'll write a book about it. (DIBS.) In fact, the shift in meaning for me may have been partially brought about by reading a few books whose authors speak of the connection between handwork and healing (notably, Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion and Mother Earth and Her Children).
At any rate, it happened again to me tonight.
Perhaps I ought to backtrack for a moment and say that my wonderful grandmother Honey passed away this week. I loved her tremendously; I have a lot to say about her. Coincidentally, I have been thinking a lot about grief lately, and I would like to spend some time addressing that. But tonight I want to write about talking to my grandfather for the first time since her death. I called him, and we had a short chat. He said what had already been reported to me, and what we all felt. Among other things, that we are glad her suffering is over. And then he said to me, "You know, you got to turn the page." It might seem like a callous thing to say, but it's not at all. I knew what he meant. He's going to live out the life that God has given him.
I usually think of that phrase, "turning the page," as getting over something or walking away from it. Letting it drop, turning one's back. How ridiculous, for a reader to take such a phrase for granted. Every one who's ever loved a book knows that each page you turn becomes a part of you forever. He isn't forgetting or turning his back. He's reading on. I can't really express how much I admire him. Or, for that matter, how much I admire her.
And I want to say how perfectly his words express the way I feel about life as the year ends, and the next begins, with so many unexpected losses and blessings. Let's turn the page, and see what's on the next.
A very happy New Year to you, dear reader.