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Some of us do this thing when life is hard and there’s nothing we can do about it.

For whatever it’s worth, I, Pat Durmon and retired mental health counselor, give you permission to sigh.

It’s just another way of grieving.

And sometimes, there simply are no words to cover the shock or situation. So, we cry or sigh.

It’s foggy with tendrils of mist when we leave the mountains. I sigh since there’s no color, we’re headed into the unknown, and we must drive with the alertness of deer.


We make it to Shreveport for a funeral service for our brother-in-law. Afterwards, we travel northeast to Monticello, Arkansas, where a second service is planned for hometown folks.

My husband drives. I read. Neither of us looks at the GPS. Somewhere we discover we made a wrong turn, and we’re heading toward Hamburg, Arkansas. I sigh, figuring we’ll miss the better part of the second service. My husband sets his eyes on the yellow line and keeps going.

Life thrums on. This is our first time to ever drive through a town named Strong. We feel anything but strong.

The wind picks up. A rain storm, brewing. Tornado watches ding on the cell. No idea if we’re ahead, behind, or in the middle of the watches, and we’ve never heard of any of the places announced.


On toward Hamburg. We know to go north when we get to Hamburg.

I see bales of barrenness, sloughs of emptiness.

I sigh.

My husband sees the massiveness of the Crossett Paper Mill; then he spots a sweet place for deer to bed down and points out how tall the pines grow.

My eyes try to adjust to his. Nothingness. Piles of nothingness.

At last, Hamburg.

A mean wind and bitter rain hit like a curtain. My husband slows the car. We can hardly see, so like the fog from the morning before.

How alienated I feel from my environment. We are encased in a car on a road with signs of construction. How symbolic is that?

Alone, and yet, together. It’s at this point that I find a bit of gratitude. We are on a road going somewhere, though the phone dings about tornadoes, though our dear brother-in-law had to leave us without a proper goodbye, though the sky is sobbing like it knows more than we about heartache.

Minutes drag.

Finally, we reach Monticello, Arkansas, where familiar faces gather, where the service was delayed, where others were sighing.

Sighing. That’s just what some of us do when our sadness runs deep, when a child cries tears while some of us hold them for later.


Thank you, dear God, for that dear one whose body now lies in the oaken casket down at the front of the chapel, for Your approval to sigh now and again later.

I’m convinced You, dear God, gave us this sighing way to let go of our burdens. Like peeling an onion, one layer at a time. Thank you.

It helps to know that You, dear Lord, are in charge of the universe, not us. It depends on You.

With that, I give You this grieving family, all the blowing and sucking sighs, the rains hammering our state, the pacing winds inside us and outside of us. It’s all Yours.

Most of us in this family are strongly anchored in the cross of Christ Jesus. It’s according to Your bigger plan. When I get through with my sighing—it may take a while—I will come again to accept and embrace Your plan, always far better than anything I could dream up.

And Lord God, I thank you for the life of our sweet brother in the casket, for our precious Savior who died for us, and for Your unusual kindness to all of us,

Pat Durmon


Rain storm, somewhere on US 425, north of Hamburg, Arkansas. Photographed by Pat Durmon.

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