Bailey’s Backyard Barbecue: Focus on the…Bears in the Backyard

Last year, my grandma found out that her best friend’s son committed suicide. I decided to travel with my aunt, mom and grandma to Colorado Springs to attend the funeral even though I never met the man; I didn’t realize how strange and awful it would be.
I sat in the church and looked around at all the grieving strangers: the dark-haired sister with sunglasses on; the young and confused daughters; the mother and father. I quickly realized that everyone there shared at least one thing; they were feeling the worst kind of pain.

After the funeral, we went to the family’s house for a more private and casual memorial service. Leaving the church relieved some tension, but the anguish was still clearly visible on the faces of his loved ones.

I stood on the back porch with Ned, the man’s father. The Colorado air was crisp and cool and their backyard smelled like flowers; most people were probably outside enjoying the day. I couldn’t help but feel angry that this beautiful family was unable to enjoy the beautiful day because of such an unexpected tragedy. As if he could read my mind, Ned suddenly started speaking. It startled me; I wasn’t sure I’d heard his voice yet.

“We have bears back here all the time,” he said. “I came home one time to find one right in the foyer of the house.”

I laughed and immediately wondered if it was inappropriate, but I looked over to find him chuckling too. His eyes were watery and swollen, but I could see the sparkle in them; I understood that there was still a living, breathing man behind the sadness. I could tell that he would be okay, even if it took a long, long time.

My grandma’s best friend called her almost every day in the following months to check in. She told her that every day for the rest of their lives would be difficult, but that they were finally moving on. Ned was still seeing bears in the backyard, and her youngest son was going to have a baby. They were learning how to live again.

The entire situation made me rethink the way that I walk around in my daily world. We all face adversity, and grieving is completely natural. However, sometimes it’s best to think about the bears in the backyard instead of focusing on the sadness.

Meeting this family also made me realize that every day is important. I never want to let a headache or a rude comment ruin my day again; it seems selfish to me now to waste time being upset, especially when I have no reason to be.

So, I think life is about being happy, or at least content. Why? Because there’s air to breathe, flowers to smell, and bears to find in the foyer…might as well make the most of it.