Worst of Times; Best of Times
I must begin by saying that I hope and pray that I will never have to attend two memorial services in two days ever again, but if I do, I know it is possible to get through that. And I also know that I am not the only one who survived such an emotional weekend, in a winter more challenging than any I remember of the 30-odd that I’ve spent out here.
What we were privileged to experience over these past few days was a collection of heroes. The bravery, poise, and grace of Robin’s children, and Tasha’s siblings, as well as the rest of their respective families and friends, were nothing less than inspiring. As difficult as it was heading to the same church two days in a row, and then out to the VFW, I have never been more proud of our community, and the incredible humans it raises and nurtures. We lost two angels, whose lives seemed far too short. But what they accomplished in their brief moments on earth, and this island, is so huge, and so far reaching, that I know it will span lifetimes to come. The gifts these women gave us are precious, and everlasting.
As nature throws its worst at us (really, we are not accustomed to snow that doesn't vanish within days, much less weeks), and stress can amp up just sliding along our ice-slick roads, and precarious driveways, the best of Nantucket is in full action. The best of Nantucket is not beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants, and lush accommodations. The best of Nantucket is not red pants, or tiny, glittering, gold baskets. It is not romantic weddings, or daffodil hats, or sailing races. Those are all attractive aspects of a world-class, resort destination, but they are by no means the best of Nantucket.
The best of Nantucket is the love and caring we all offer each other in challenging times. It’s hugs on the street, or in the grocery store. It’s friends and strangers digging each other out of snowy situations, or emotional situations, or situations of physical illness, or trauma. Like Robin once (now famously) said, “We take care of each other here; it’s just what we do.” We show up. When times are tough, we think, “How can I help?” We are all in this together, cut off from so much of what is considered “normal” life on the mainland, and that’s how we like it. Those who don’t do not last long on this island. Those who do are pretty darn special, in my humble opinion.
This past weekend was really difficult for many of us, but it also demonstrated what living on Nantucket is all about. As much as my heart breaks for these two, incredible families, I know that they will be okay. Different, but okay. Their strength was abundantly evident, and has been for some time, each in their own way. I am in awe of them, and this place, where I have learned to be strong myself. I’ve been the beneficiary of the selflessness of our island community in the past, and it is stunning and overwhelming. It can fill the cracks of a broken heart; it can teach us that survival means leaning on one another, even when that’s hard to do. We are also fiercely independent, another common thread in our nature. In the worst of times, the best rises to the surface, and we understand what is most important, and valuable. What a gift; what a treasure.