Holding up the Sky.

Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote this, my papa went to be with the Lord. I am posting this because it’s important for me to record this part of it and the women who cared for him. And then I probably won’t talk about him for a little while, keeping my grief private–at least until I work things out–for a time.papaI don’t like to wear the color lavender because I remember staring down at my sweater and shoes when we found out we would have to unexpectedly have to put my childhood dog to sleep. We were so shaken because it was unexpected. “I can’t go in there,” my dad said. “Neither can I,” my brother added. I didn’t blame either of them. I did not want to go in either. But my normally quiet mom spoke up: “I’ll go. I don’t want her to be alone.” And then I found myself saying, “I’ll go too,” because I did not want my mom to be alone and because I could not turn away from my mom’s reasoning.

Sometimes you cannot turn away.

That memory came back to me this weekend as we sat around my grandfather’s bed. The we was my mom, my grandmother, my aunt, and myself. All women. This is nothing against men, especially the men in my family. But as I watched my mom put chapstick on my papa’s lips or pretend to hang tools on a non-existent pegboard because he thought, in his mind, she’d left them on the ground, I knew instinctively that this was sacred work we were all doing. My grandmother brushed his hair from his head. My aunt made us laugh when we wanted to cry (this is a gift in and of itself). I am still trying to understand what I did. Maybe it was keeping this record.

I’m treading carefully because I so badly want to say the thing I mean and not be misunderstood. So often, men want to fix things. But there are some things which cannot be fixed or put back together. Some things we must watch fall apart, or in fact, die. These things are important and need to be done well. So often times, it is women who hold the vigil, when there is nothing to fix, when there is difficult comfort to give, when there is nothing to do but wait with the hardest anticipation.

We held our breath in that room–the women of the family. None of us felt abandoned by the men/boys of the family. I know for a fact that none of us felt as if they were lesser for not being there. Somehow it seemed right that it was us. I’m not saying women belong in one room and men in another or that there are certain jobs women are made for and others for men. All I can tell you is what I felt in that room: that it was supposed to be the women of the family watching over him.

I have a confession to make. I have often overlooked the strength of the women on this side of my family because it is more quiet than other kinds of strength I am more familiar with. This past week, I was humbled beyond belief. Quiet strength can hold up the whole sky. It bears all types of burdens we cannot imagine. It bears them quietly and without complaint. It holds on with a tenderness and a fierceness that surprised and humbled me. It is slow to weariness.

I learned this week, about the quiet strength of specific women. Gentle strength is a force to be reckoned with in and of itself. It should not be discounted.

I do not discount it.


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23 thoughts on “Holding up the Sky.

  1. Amanda Batinich

    My Dearest Nina – once again you astonish me with your ability to create a picture with words. Your eloquent writing moves me regularly. This was not an easy task to write about and you did it with love and grace. My prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Peace

  2. Dollie

    “Quiet strength can hold up the whole sky.”….that was definitely a heart clutch and watery eye moment. Nina, there is so much truth and beauty in your words…we women can do some absolutely miraculous things. Sending prayers to you and your family as you celebrate the full life of your grandfather.

  3. Julia

    So very true! I truly believe that, while no one is limited by their gender in what they are capable of, there are certain things that God has instilled in men, and certain things He has instilled in women that shine in certain situations, and I feel that far from this being an either/or or a “better than” thing, it’s a complimentary thing. We are strong in some areas, and they in others. Beautifully put.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and pray God’s peace for you and your family!

  4. sarah

    So sorry for your loss, Nina. I’ll be praying for you and your family over these next few difficult days.
    You are right though….the gentle strength of a woman is a force so unbelievably, quietly strong.

  5. Macy

    I will be honest, I could only read a little of this because it brings back many memories. But I will be praying for you, and I hope that in time everything will get easier, although it will probably take years, it will eventually happen <3

  6. Biana Perez

    I can’t even imagine how hard this time is for you, but I think back on loss in my life and I know how I felt – so all I can say is I’m thinking of you!! xo

  7. Shenine joon

    I’m so sorry for your loss Nina. What a beautiful post and that life “quiet strength can hold up the whole sky” I can’t even tell you the feelings that I experienced reading that line. Praying for you and your family

  8. Emily

    Sweet girl, my heart just breaks. I’ve been thinking about you all week and am so sad to read this. I’m very sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  9. Rebecca Chapman

    What an absolutely beautiful post and tribute to your grandfather and the strong women in his life. I am still praying for you and your family. It’s never easy to lose a loved one even when you know the time is coming. My virtual hugs are still being sent your way.

  10. Nicole

    This was an absolutely beautiful post and touching tribute to the women in your family. I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather, but it appeared he had just what he needed surrounding him in the end.

  11. Jenni

    I love you! Your heart, your words, your unyielding love for those around you.
    I know you’re hurting but you’re being molded by our creator RIGHT now.
    Praying for you dear friend!

    Oh, and….Your grandfather was such a handsome man in a uniform!!

  12. Elaine Oldham

    Nina, your words will be a comfort to your mom, aunt, and grandmother through this difficult time and for years to come. You were in that room because you are the next generation of strong Touros women. What a gift you have to be loved by three amazing women. You could not ask for better role models. I remember what a tough outer shell your grandmother had when I was growing up and spending time at her house. But she would do anything for anyone she came in contact with. I will always have wonderful memories of “Gus and Virg”.

    One of the things I have learned from having a strong mother was that, sometimes, women go on automatic pilot when it comes to knowing what to do. We don’t question it, we just do it. We unselfishly put other people’s needs first and do what needs to be done. You will find as you get older that taking on the role of being a caregiver is a rite of passage. Everything comes full circle, and your life will be richer for it.

    Take care of your mom for me. She is a remarkable woman. I have a feeling tha apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

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