Last week I attended the very sad funeral of my cousin. He was a firefighter. He was an exemplary firefighter, as I learned listening to the beautiful eulogies of his friends and fellow firefighters. Outside the funeral home, the fire engines lined up and displayed his equipment. His jacket, his helmet, his boots. Among all the life-saving equipment there, the oxygen masks, the ladders, the axes, the ropes, nothing could save his life. I was caught, though, by the rope. I had recently listened to a book on tape, Home Safe, and in it the author uses an analogy of "the hold knots on the rope of life." Hold Knots - the things we can hold onto when life gets slippery, when life seems to be slipping out of our grip. The thing is I can't remember what she said. What are the hold knots of life? Was it friends, was it laughter? There are so many things I could plug in there. The funny thing about a book on CD is that I can't go back and look for the page. I have no idea where it would be.
For us last week, our family was a sure Hold Knot. We are tied by bonds that go back not just through our lifetime, but through the ages, through the family tree of our ancestors roots. Our names, too, our multi-generational. The third, the fourth of our grandparents.
Hugs were a Hold Knot too. As we greeted each other after many months, some I haven't seen since the last funeral, we held onto each other tightly, not wanting to let go. Hugs are so important. "7 hugs a day," I used to tell my kids. We don't give Hugs enough respect!
Friends are a Hold Knot. Friends who listened and cooked meals. Friends who shared stories that otherwise couldn't have been told.
And laughter. We all laughed at whatever we could even if it wasn't that funny. We hold on to that feeling. That release of pressure for a moment. My cousin telling stories of his band members that had us all holding our sides.
I don't know why I haven't written in so long. I had a mentor in education who said, "Children write in the wake of beauty." I have always loved that idea. Beauty is a Hold Knot. The flowers, the warm breezes, the silence of respect, the sound of the bag pipes, the tissues dabbing at tears. Pain has its own beauty. I saw 200 firefighters salute their fallen comrade. I saw loved ones cry at the memory of their friend, their son, their brother. I heard the most beautiful words spoken at the funeral about the incredible life of an incredible person. I witnessed the beauty of family holding each other and loving each other through the most awful pain and it was a privilege to be a part of it.
For the author of that book, I'm not sure what her hold knot was. For me, it could be so many different things. The important thing is that we have Hold Knots. That we have something to Hold On To. Hold On Tight.