“Grief is itself a medicine,” William Cowper.
Everyone processes grief differently. The day after our mother’s death, my sister and I began our grief journey and took up swinging. Not that kind of swinging, Heaven forbid! No. What we chose instead was the weightless, transformational lightness of being that only a tried and true piece of playground equipment can supply.
That morning my sister and I waited rather anxiously for hospice (blessed hospice!) to pick up that wretched hospital bed. We wanted it gone, banished from our sight forever. When the truck carrying the bed and other supplies disappeared down the driveway we looked at one another doubtfully. What next? we wondered.
It was too early to drink wine. We were too fretful to take a nap even though we were both exhausted. It was decided we would drive to nearby Lewisville Park for a walk. It was a place that held many family memories for us.
My sister successfully parallel parked so we could avoid paying the $5 entrance fee. I was impressed by her skills and frugal determination. We looked all around us.
Our mother was dead, and yet everything seemed so normal.
We walked, stopping every so often to reach out and touch each other. Sometimes on the arm, sometimes on the shoulder, sometimes we paused for an outright hug. I wanted to make sure she was still there. She wanted to make sure I was still there. We continued on.
Up ahead in the distance, we saw a vintage and sturdy appearing swing set. It seemed a welcoming sight. Like an old friend, it beckoned to us and we answered its call. We looked at each other questioningly. Should we?
We both sat our middle-aged bottoms down on the curved seats. We straightened our legs took a few tentative steps backward, stood tip-toe, leaned back, and just let go. We let go of our cares as we pumped our legs forward, backward, up and down in that familiar and sweet rhythm of childhood.
Our thoughts began to clear, our hearts felt just a little joy, and that was enough.
Freedom, freedom, freedom.
I will further report that the very next day we took a country drive. We drove until we reached the old Green Mountain schoolhouse tucked away in the woods. Built in 1932, it brought us pleasure just to look at it. We need a touch of reminiscence on this bright, sunshine-filled day.
We walked about, we were not alone as the maintenance crew was working on the grounds. They were repairing last year’s wear and tear and preparing for the new year.
So were we.
We decided to pay them no mind. They graciously made the same decision. This time, without hesitation we walked to that ancient swing set and let instinct take over. Two middle-aged sisters, pumping their legs and flying high in the sky, laughing, crying, forgetting, remembering. We could not imagine what anyone would think of us, nor could we imagine that anyone would care. This was our time.
And it is a day and experience I will never forget.
Since that time, I have read and researched. I know now the physical and mental benefits this childhood pleasure brings. I know it reduces stress, promotes mental function, benefits the joints, and burns calories.
But at the time, my sister and I were in need of a lift. We needed an escape from earthly bonds as we waved goodbye to our departed mother now nestled safely in her Heavenly home. We imagined she was waving back.
My sister and I both recommend this wholesome and economical activity. We have a date for swinging later this month, and I like to think it will not be our last. So if you see two mature-looking ladies swinging on a swing set in your neighborhood, do not be alarmed. Give us a wave and a smile or better yet, join us for a swing.
“Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys,” Alphonse de Lamartine.