Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Standing Deer

As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is
too loved or too heavy to part with,
the heart may grow cluttered.
And still the house will be emptied,
and still the heart.

As the thoughts of a person
in age sometimes grow sparer,
like a great cleanness come into a room,
the soul may grow sparer;
one sparrow song carves it completely.
And still the room is full,
and still the heart.

Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

Beloved, what can be, what was,
will be taken from us.
I have disappointed.
I am sorry. I knew no better.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.

~ Jane Hirshfield ~
Today everything I tried to accomplish was an exercise in frustration.  The children are finished with school and keeping them learning for another month is sometimes almost impossible.  I don't blame them, it is beautiful outside and sometimes all I want is to be out there soaking up sun.  I tried to go to the courthouse to switch the truck title into my name.  Oh my.  Not so simple.  forms to fill out, lawyers to call, then another call, then come back later.  I tried to go to Social Security to find out what I need to do there and whether or not I am even able to collect on David's.  I might not be able to, which creates a lot of other problems.  Social Security is only open limited hours, I don't know what someone does when they work 8-5.  I tried calling but no one ever answers and you can't do anything online.  So another trip another day.  I'm afraid to go, I don't know if I want to hear the news.  Part of our financial plan was believing that I would be able to collect on David's Social Security.  If I can't, well, I'm afraid to go there right now.  I just wanted to accomplish one thing today.  Just one thing. 
Instead, I went outside and planted things in the garden, dug weeds, and wandered around surveying Spring.  A mixed blessing.  David and I usually did this together.  It was our daily gift, sharing the joy of what we had created here.  It is hard not to be able to share it with him and yet it still brings such joy to find the first Jack in the Pulpit, to get an unexpected whiff of fragrance from the azaleas, to see the first Columbine bloom. 
Empty and filled, filled and empty.  That's all there is.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Someone gave me a little book on grief today and it helped; every little bit helps.  This passage was hidden in it's pages:

"The melody that the loved one played on the piano of your life will never be played quite that way again, but we must not close the keyboard and allow the instrument to gather dust.  We must seek out the artists of the spirit, new friends who gradually will help us find the road to life again, who will walk the road with us."  Rabbi Joshua Liebman

I love the images of the piano of my life not ever being played in quite the same way again and the artists of the spirit.  Those phrases allow me somehow to see beauty in the future.  Seeing my life as a piano that was played one way and can still be played again, just in a different way allows for such variation, new combinations, different emphasis, phrasing, timing....I like it.  And that it is artists of the spirit who are to be sought.  I've always wished that I was an artist of some kind and I like the idea of being an artist of the spirit, of life.  I hope that as I find those in my life I will be one for others as well. 

In church today, our minister talked about so many of the pains and losses of our world and how love is the only way out.  Every great spiritual path tells us this.  Love one another, first and foremost.  He asked us to stand and share an act of love that we were a part of this last week. When I start thinking like that I am overcome by the beauty of the place I am in right now.  There are so many acts of love, it could take pages to share them all.  All is not lost, love still wins.  He ended with this quote from Wendell Berry:

"I have no love except it come from thee.  Help me carry this candle against the wind."

That is all we can really do for one another, help carry the candle against the wind. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

There are three things that are hard.  Going to bed at night and then getting up in the morning are hard.  By far the most difficult is sitting at the desk.  We have a huge double built in desk that David made and it's where all the photos and "stuff" are.  David would get up in the morning and sit with coffee checking the stock market.  I got up later and came to kiss him good morning, then fed the chickens and walked the dog.  Once those chores were done I would get my coffee and join him there.  We spent some of every morning sharing news, sitting side by side.  It was one of the happiest moments of many in my day.  Some days I simply can't face it and I take the laptop elsewhere.  I have yet to turn on his computer, that is something that will have to wait for quite some time. 

Most days I walk around feeling as if I have been kicked in the chest.  That is where I feel my grief the most.  A woman friend from church gave me a heart shaped rock she found in the river by her house.  She prayed with it and gave it to me along with a wonderful meal.  Sometimes holding that rock in the center of my chest takes some of the ache away.  The power of love, and prayer, and rocks, and river.

Every day seems full of firsts; I did not expect so many.  So many little everyday firsts that sometimes cycle around and around.  Today I went to a plant sale that we went to every year.  We shared a weakness for growing things and we could always find something we simply had to have.  I had to breathe deeply as I walked around the booths, but I bought a fringe tree to plant at the entrance to our property and a curly willow to put next to the spring, and my annual pineapple sage that I can never get to overwinter. 

The curly willow is a small sprig of a thing and the couple that sold it to me were so lovely.  Old mountain folks with white hair, some missing teeth, and a stump of a cigar.  You could tell they had grown up together, they knew each others stories and teased each other as they smiled fondly. The man winked at me as I left.  Carrie has a song with the phrase:  They wore love like lightening, it was something to see, with the face of their true love, set up on their sleeves.  I always knew I would never have that kind of time with David, we met too late in life to grow up together.  But we wore our love like lightening and it was something to see. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The poet Naomi Shahib Nye writes, "Before you can know what kindness really is/ you must lose things/ feel the future dissolve in a moment/ like salt in a weakened broth...then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore."

I love her poetry and this one appeared in my inbox today.  She is so spot on.  For years I have had a sticker on my laptop that says "kindness changes everything."  And I thought I knew what that meant.  But I didn't.  Not until the future dissolved in a moment.  And then kindness really did become everything. 

I have been saved by the kindness of others.  Those who know and love me, strangers, acquaintances.  Kindness has always brought me to tears.  I can handle mean, I can handle angry, I can handle stupid, but kindness does me in. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  All of you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's amazing how I can live whole weeks in one day lately.  I wake up in one place and end the day miles down the road. 

Today I was walkng Lulu on a longish walk around the farm.   Looking out over spring rising up the mountainsides and listening to the birds, watching the rabbits and calves, I was struck by how alive everything is right now.  And of course, started to think about how alive David was.  He was the strongest healthiest guy on the farm.  He even put the young helpers to shame, throwing as many bales of hay at 71 as they did at 25.  He loved Spring and we always took a walk around our property, checking out what was coming up and marking plants to come back to later.  He was so alive.  And now he's not.  It doesn't seem real or possible that so much life can so suddenly be gone.

I didn't think I would make it through seeing my student today.  Wasn't sure I could do it, but shear force of will got me there and his joyful presence got me through.  Thank goodness for children. 

I went to see a financial advisor after that and found out that although we thought we had planned well, we didn't plan well enough.  Both of us counted on me being able to draw on David's social security.  I can't.  We were not married long enough.  So.  Life turned on a dime again today.  I have to find work that can meet all of the daily expenses, the sooner the better.  The house is payed for and that is a great blessing.  But I have to take deep breaths to stay calm.  It just doesn't seem fair that I have to find a way to cope with one more thing right now.  But (deep breath), perhaps it is a blessing.  Work will be good for me and perhaps I will find some new gift or calling or deepen the one I have always known. 

It is just so hard to find myself  moving so quickly from a comfortable looking forward in a known direction to suddenly not knowing where the horizon is.  One step forward and look around, take another step.  breathe.  That's all I can do.  And trust in the light.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weary.  A wonderful old fashioned word that makes perfect sense to me right now.  I am weary.  I didn't sleep much, I cried until I could barely breathe.  I don't know why the night brought that, I just know I can barely move today.  I feel as if I can't go on and yet I have no choice but to go on. Oh, I know, I always have choices and I guess honestly, this is my choice:  to go on.  But right now, I have no idea how to do that and no idea how it is possible.
 That's how I feel. 
What I know is that it will get better and the way forward is simply one step at a time.  Feed the animals, pull the weeds, eat whether you want to or not. 
In case anyone is ever reading this and wondering how they will get through and why they are not doing better six weeks out, I want them to know how hard it is. That it doesn't just get better bit by bit.  It gets better and then it gets worse and then it gets better again.  And sometimes it really does feel as if you cannot do one more thing and why bother anyway.  But you keep doing one more thing, simply because you are alive.  And you trust that life still is a beautiful gift and will continue to be a beautiful gift.  Whether you can see it right now or not. 
 Such a small word for such a huge thing.  Trust, Faith, Hope, Love.  Huge things, the only things, hard and beautiful things.  We can't really live without them and yet they are so hard to live with.  I am grateful for them, would not choose to live without them, and right now....struggling with them.  Fighting with angels....who was it who fought the angel and came out so very changed?  I feel like him.  Fighting with angels.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I haven't been sleeping well the last couple of nights and just felt off during the day.  I've been short tempered and grumpy.  Then today it hit me hard.  Again.  Grief, crying, feeling so lost and hopeless and overwhelmed.  Walking the dog I found myself thinking, "Okay, It's really time for you to come home now."  What is so weird is that I really couldn't shake the feeling that this has all been a temporary state.  That it actually was possible for him to come back.  Just come back, please please please.  I think I would do almost anything to make that possible. 
And so here I go again.  How can I do this?  How can I make it through the rest of my life without him here?  It seems that just when I start to feel a bit of normal, I get hit with one of these waves.  There is nothing I can do but submit to it.  I hate it, it hurts, physically and emotionally.  I want it to be over, I want it to be a horrible dream, I want to go back to six months ago,  I want something I can't have. 
This is easily the hardest thing I have ever done.
And that's it.  I don't really have anything else right now.  I'm just riding the wave as best I can.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grief will come to you.
Grip and cling all you want,
It makes no difference.
Catastrophe? It's just waiting to happen.
Loss? You can be certain of it.
Flow and swirl of the world.
Carried along as if by a dark current.
All you can do is keep swimming;
All you can do is keep singing.
~ Gregory Orr ~
This poem was in my inbox this morning.  I've been asked a lot lately how I am doing and this is as good an answer as any I give.  I was trying to explain to someone what this process is like.  How there is no moment, no ritual, no one thing that makes the loss real or heals it.  It is simply a process over which I have no real control.  I can only follow it, feel it, process it as it shows itself to me.  I can't choose when I cry or for how long, when I fall apart and when I am strong.  I can't figure out what is wrong and then do something to make it better.  There is no: do this, then this, then this and then you will be done.  I do know that allowing myself to be fully in the process allows me to heal faster.  And so I immerse myself in the river, allowing it to take me where it will. 
When I went to the first Grief Class at Hospice I was shocked that some of the folks there had lost their loved one a year ago, four years ago, two years ago.  I almost did not go back, I did not want to be them in two years or four.  The therapist told me that those folks where there because they had not done what I am doing.  They had ignored, buried, distracted, medicated the process until it finally overwhelmed them.  For whatever reason I have not been able to do that, I saw no other choice but to submit to the river and follow it where it goes.  And I will try to keep on singing.  I don't see any other choice about that either.  I have to believe in the power of the light, that truly this world is made up of light, that we come from it and return to it.  And so I keep on singing...and swimming. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Our house is a very very very fine house, with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy 'cause of you."  David's and my life together has been bookended by Loggins and Messina songs.  I used to sit every morning with my coffee, in the sun, on the front porch, and watch our lovely created world come to life.  And hum this song to myself.  Life held so much joy and promise, shared goals and dreams.  I sat this morning doing the same thing and sinking a bit into sadness, remembering.  I hate that Target has taken our song to use for a TV commercial. 

Then a million little things went wrong today.  And I couldn't stop crying.  I just seemed to leak tears all day.  I went to the wrong place at the wrong time, I missed a class, I drove in circles trying to decide if I should go home or go to a coffee shop and gather myself together.  The computer quit working.  But I went to the coffee shop and felt the peace of that lovely place settle around me.  Then Peggy worried me to death about meeting with some women friends for dinner.  And I told her she made me angry and I went and had a lovely time.  I don't know what I would do without Peggy worrying me into doing all the things I need to do and don't want to. 

We gathered and caught up over dinner, sharing stories about relationships and work and children.  And as I drove home I was reminded of a story I have heard and I have no idea of the source, but it goes something like this:  If everyone put all of their troubles in a pile and we could choose any one of the troubles in that pile, we would probably take our own back.  As hard as this has been, I'll take it over the troubles of the others.  Not that their's were worse or easier or harder, somehow just sharing them made me more grateful for mine.  I'll take my path, this path, over any other.  It's mine and it fits me and I'll continue to travel it, believing that I am where I am supposed to be, becoming who I am supposed to be. 

There is another quote that I love:  Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. 

Today I am grateful for the love I've known, the little moments of peace in this day, and the sharing of stories.  We heal each other when we share our stories. 

Our house, is indeed, a very very very fine house. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Om Namah Shivaya:  the chant at the begining of the new yoga class I got myself to this morning. "I bow to what I am becoming.  I know that I have all I need."  That was the teacher's translation of the chant.  Needless to say, I cried through the begining of class but it was a good way to start the day.

I went back to work for the first time since the middle of December.  I only have one student because I found new tutors for all the others, so work is a relative term.  But I went back to the school where I see most of my students, a school I love and believe in. These folks welcomed me home. 

Many of them told me how much my writing has meant to them.  And they told me I was brave and strong and amazing.  I don't feel brave and strong, mostly I feel scared and overwhelmed and sad.  But I have read somewhere that bravery is not about not feeling afraid, it is about feeling afraid and doing it anyway.  So maybe I am.  I remember my therapist saying to me years ago that I could just not.  Not take care of my kid, not keep going, not fight for my sanity.  I looked at her like she was crazy.  Not, was not an option.  So maybe I am brave.  I can't imagine not...I can't imagine giving up, letting go, not taking the next step.  And I am so happy that what I had to say meant something to someone else.  That what I did to save my life had meaning for someone.  That's a good thing. 

I also met a woman whose husband of 25 years died of pancreatic cancer in December.  We started sharing stories and were finishing each other's sentences.  It felt so good to talk to someone who knew exactly what it was like.  And knew it fresh, like me.  We knew exactly what the other one was saying and feeling and yet her story is so very different from mine.  We are all of us, living the same story but it feels so individual because of our own little quirks and styles.  If I could just always remember that.  I'd be a much better person. 

And tonight, I went dancing. I almost didn't go, but two friends agreed to meet me there and I couldn't back down.  I used to contra dance two times a week.  It was a big part of my life, but I gave it up when I met David.  He wanted to dance, he loved dancing, and he simply could not do it.  We tried.  A lot.  It just didn't seem fair for me to go dancing when he wanted to so badly and couldn't.  So I stopped. But I went back tonight and saw folks I haven't seen in five years and I danced and lost myself in the music and the movement.  There is a gift in this widowhood too.  Contra dancing can be a hard place to maintain boundaries, but it is effortless as a widow.  There is no question that I am not available.  I don't even have to think about it.  I can just dance. 

I found myself thinking about that as I drove home.  Will I ever be available again?  I would hope so. I learnd how to love with David and I learned what a good relationship is.  It seems like a waste to never love again. But to be honest, I don't ever want to have to go through this again.  And even harder, I would never want to put someone in the position I am in now.  But the reality is, if you love you are going to lose.  There is no escaping it.  Right now I just can't see that far ahead. 

I am twelve years younger now than David was when we first met.  That's hard to wrap my head around.  I have a lot of life ahead of me and I have no idea what it will look like.  I have no idea what I want it to look like.  I dont' think I've ever been in a place like this before.  I always had hopes and dreams and ideas.  Now, I simply live one day at a time...one hour, one minute.  There is still simply no way to think ahead. 

I have no idea what all this rambling means tonight.  I felt another day of being "me" again...and that was a welcome relief.  That's all I know right now.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I just saw a quote from a Barenaked Ladies song:

"You gotta kick at the darkness until it bleeds light."

I like it.  It meets my sadness and anger right where they are.  I just wish I knew how to kick at the darkness.  All I seem to be able to do the last few days is succumb to it.  Maybe the kicking is in the act of getting up again after it knocks you down. 

I have been continually undone by spring.  Everything I look at makes me remember David and what we shared and dreamed.  The yard and ponds and gardens that we built rock by rock and pile of dirt by pile of dirt.  All the things he never got to see come to fruition, the wild azaleas, the apple trees and serviceberry blooming, the peaches and cherries.  All his beautiful lillies that he taught me to love.  And who do I tell about the bluebirds nesting and the peas, the trillium, Solomon's seal and mayapples coming up?  This sharing is what made spring bearable for me.  Now I sit every morning and just cry.  Everywhere I look is something to be shared and no one to share it with.

And the work!  There is so much to be done that I cannot keep up.  And much of it I simply don't have the skills to do.  I get so angry, and then so sad, and then overwhelmed.  I think, "well forget it, I'll just let it all go."  And then I get up one more time and do something, anything, to make a dent.  And sometimes it helps and sometimes I sit right back down and cry some more. 

It's been a ridiculously hard couple of days.  I just keep finding myself in the same place over and over again.  I like to be able to figure out what needs to be done and do it, move forward, work my way through something.  But this, this seems to be like a knotted up necklace; and I have NEVER been good at fixing those.  I know I will somehow find my way through all of this.  I know it because I know people who have done it.  I know this because I am surrounded by people who will not let me go under, even if I want to.  I know this because I simply could not bear the world if I did not believe that the darkness does indeed eventually bleed light.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A friend told me today that I am living in liminal space.  That space between what you know and what you don't know.  The space where all the magic happens.  The space that is Holy.  And she's right, I am in that place where I am no longer who I was but I have no idea who I will be.  I'm not really appreciating it much, but I'm trying.  My big fear is that I will go back to the way I was before I knew David.  I don't want to go back there.  I don't want to be that person or live that life.  I was a better person with David and my friend assures me that I will continue to be that person.  I'm gonna havew to trust her on this one. And I do, because she has been where I am and come through.

The other day I found myself crying, curled up in a ball, and saying over and over "I can't do this, I just can't do this anymore."  This same friend also told me that I would learn patience from this experience.  After a bit I remembered a time when I was curled up in that same ball, on a different bed, crying those same words.  I was a single parent of a little baby, I had not slept in days, I had no job, no money, no support.  And I did the same thing then that I do now.  I got up and took one more step.  And I learned patience.  And I grew into a better person.  And it got easier, eventually.

I am so tired of feeling sad, and scared, and overwhelmed.  So very very tired of it.  But I will keep moving forward, believing in liminal space, and grace, and patience. Knowing that I do not do this alone.  I am surrounded by love and that has to count for something.  A lot, I suspect, more than I can even imagine right now. 

I'm having to take all of this on a leap of faith.  I'm just angry and sad and tired right now, and sick of it all. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Moving to Australia solves nothing.  sigh.

It was one of Jesse's and my favorite books, "Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"  Everything goes wrong and he is going to move to Australia, but of course, there are bad days even in Australia.  And so it goes at the beach as well.

Today was hard, hard, hard.  I finished the stupid novel.  And spent a great deal of the day in tears.  The worst part is that I couldn't even figure out why.  Usually I can identify some emotion or trigger when I fall apart like this.  Today I just couldn't stop crying. 

Where ever you go, there you are.  Even at the beach.  Maybe I shouldn't go on vacation alone.  I miss belonging with someone. 

And you know, I really thought he wouldn't just leave me here.  I thought in my heart of hearts that I would have a dream or a vision or something, where he came and said goodbye or told me he loved me or something.  But he just left.  It feels so abrupt.  I could've used a little more slide.  But then again, maybe not.  That's probably hard too. 

There just isn't any easy. 

And Alexander is right, even in Australia there are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I never read the stupid novel.

 I just sat and watched the waves, mostly.  For several hours.  And I watched the people, all the young families and couples.  I noticed that almost noone touches.  All day I only saw three couples touching, two of the couples were over 65 and one was probably in their 50's.  While I was eating breakfast I watched as a couple came in to the returant.  They looked to be in their 70's and had that air of having been together for a very long time.  I wanted to go over to them and tell them how lucky they are.  To have had so much time.  And that they should smile more and touch each other, enjoy the gift they have.  And you know, if it's not a gift, if you cannot look across to that person every day and thank God for the gift of their presence in your life, then do something about it.  Make it possible to do so or get out.  I felt kind of preachy today. 

I also felt a layer of stress sinking into the sand, a layer I didn't even know was there.  And I let go of some more of those fine fine strands that tie me to David.  It is pure agony and one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I feel like I do it as much for him as for me.  It's as if it frees him almost more than it does me. He has a different path now, while I continue on this one.  I hate that, but it doesn't do any good to fight it. 

A lovely day in one of my most favorite places, mixed with sadness, loss, and hard emotional work.  Standard fare these days. 


Monday, April 8, 2013

Lulu and I had an easy drive to the beach today.  I went from almost winter/barely spring to full on almost summer.  The redbuds, dogwoods, and azaleas are blooming once you get down off the mountain.  And somehow the air smells so much better at the beach and I feel like I can breathe again.  I always feel slightly claustrophobic in the mountains.  I think it comes from growing up on the beach, if I can't see for miles I get a little bit antsy. 

I was coming to this beach before I met David and it feels fitting to be coming here now.  It is and always has been, mine.  But oh, how I miss having him to come home to.  I am finding that I don't much care for being alone.  Maybe I never did, I barely remember.  I just know I was used to it and making the best of it until I met him.  I loved having someone to hold on to, to tell all the little things to, to snuggle up to in bed, someone to bounce my crazy ideas off of, someone to tell me they thought I was the best thing in the whole world.  And I loved looking at him and just plain old loving him, enjoying his presence in my life, his touch, his smell, his humor, his love.  Damn. 

So, onward, again.  I find myself gathering myself together many times a day, to take another step forward.  I don't want to, I want to go back, back to the way it was...before November.  I'm not who I used to be and I have no idea who I will be.  I hate this, I want some structure, to know something...anything....just one thing.

What do I know?  That I was loved, completely.  And that I loved, completely. No small thing I guess.  That I can teach and change people's lives with that gift.  That I have a lovely home and have raised a pretty great son.  That there are people in my life who love me.  Again, no small thing.  Some people never have these things.  Okay, so I am a lucky woman.  But sometimes it's hard to remember.  I miss him.

Tomorrow I will sit in the sun and listen to the waves and read a stupid novel.  He would have hated it and sent me off with his blessing. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I made it through another day.  Feeling kind of normal.  It makes me kind of tense, waiting to be hit in the gut again.  I  know it will happen and it will probably catch me off guard, so stressing about it probably isn't useful.  yeah, tell that to my gut. 

I got myself to church only because one of the women emailed me and told me she was looking forward to seeing me.  But I made it through the entire service without having to go sit in the bathroom and sob, I only cried quietly in the sanctuary.  I got through sharing the peace and even stayed to visit after the service.  Huge progress.  Funny how tiny little baby steps can feel like such a major accomplishment.  Life is now measured in those small moments.  Actually, I guess it has been for quite a while now. 

I spent the afternoon digging up more garden beds and more weeds.  And I finally got into the beehives.  They are doing really well, unfortunately I don't have the time to split the hive so I did the best I could to hold them off from swarming until I get back from the beach.  The chickens followed me all around the garden this afternoon.  I was the source of freshly turned earth and bugs and worms.  It's so funny to listen to them sort of chuckling to themselves as they follow me, and to look behind and see this little parade of waddling chickens. 

I am heading to the beach for a few days.  A promise I made to myself as David was dying and I was facing the memorial services.  "When this is over I am heading for mama ocean."  So, here goes.  Me and Lulu, at least she will get me out of the house and walking a couple of times a day.  Just in case.  I dont' expect to be hit with hard emotions, but I never seem to know what will hurt.  David didn't much like the beach, he would go with me but spent most of the time inside watching tv or playing cards.  So I hope that this little trip will be healing and restful and bring me back to another piece of myself.  I seem to be thinking of life as before and after the beach.  After the beach I will go back to work, I will meet with the lawyer, I will.....Carrie has a song (of course).  "We live our lives from then until now, By the mercy received and the marks on our brow, To my heart I’ll collect what the four winds will scatter, And frame my life into before and after..." 

So here's to another day and baby steps. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Yesterday I was driving home along the river road when I suddenly realized I was feeling joy.  The kind of joy I haven't felt in months.  It caught me by surprise.  Peggy told me this would happen, that I would gradually realize I was feeling happy some of the time.  And I only cried twice yesterday.  A vast improvement.  I didn't want to write about it, afraid it might have been some kind of fluke. And, indeed, I woke up this morning feeling really sad.  Cleaning out the chicken coop put that behind me.  Hard work has a way of doing that.  Then again this afternoon, running a ton of errands, I realized I felt "normal".  Not necessarily joyful or even happy, but normal...as if some part of myself was back.

I have been cleaning up the house and I gave a great many of David's clothes to Goodwill today.  Some that I could not part with, I put in the downstairs closet.  And the favorites that he wore all the time have gone to a niece to be made into a quilt.  It has taken me a week or so to do this, but it feels okay.  The house is slowly changing from being so completely him to being something we shared and built but is now moving on to something new, something that is me alone.  And that doesn't feel as impossible as it used to. 

I miss him, I'm overwhelmed often, and I still don't seem to make it through a day without crying, but I am no longer immobilized.  At least not today.  If I have learned anything I have learned to not be surprised by any change of events or emotions.  This process is a spiral that is definitely moving upward, but still can plunge me to the depths. 

For awhile yesterday I felt guilty for feeling happy.  But when I am quiet within myself I know that David would be unhappy if I was to live the rest of my life as a shrine to him.  I suspect he would believe that the greatest measure of the love we had would be for me to move forward with that gift, fully, into the world again.  So I continue to take one step at a time, hesitant for sure, but trying to stay open and willing.  I try one new thing and see how it feels.  How do I feel when his clothes are not in the closet?  If it doesn't feel right I put them back for a while.  I do this dance...what about this?  how does this feel?  Is it time for this?  not yet?  I took off my wedding ring yesterday and it felt wrong.  For now, that ring is still a part of who I am and so I put it back on.  I cannot get rid of anything in the shop.  I suspect that will take a very long time.  But I gave one of David's most beautiful boxes to friends.  In gratitude for all they did for me, and David, during the last couple of months.  And it felt like the exact right thing to do. 

Thursday was the one month anniversary of his death.  I sat quietly from 6:00 to 6:15, just being present.  And I felt peaceful, sad, but peaceful.  Deep deep breaths, it's all I can do.  This is not a journey I ever wanted to take.  My hope is that something in me will be better for it.  I know I am better for having loved David. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can't achieve.
Trying to control the future
is like trying to take the master carpenter's place.
When you handle the master carpenter's tools,
chances are that you'll cut yourself.
(Tao Te Ching, trans. by Stephen Mitchell)
I haven't written in the last couple of days because, to tell the truth, I don't have anything to say except to complain.  I am lost, overwhelmed and teetering on edges.  I wake up in the morning and do a body scan.  Is that ache in my chest still there?  Will I make it through the day without sobbing?  Some days I get up and think "okay, I'm okay", then something, the smallest thing hits me and I am helpless.  I can't seem to get through a day without falling apart at some point.  I go to that damn grief class each week and find out I am completely normal, which is sometimes helpful and sometimes hateful. 

Sometimes life feels a bit like it used to and then I feel horrible for feeling normal.  Sometimes life feels like it will never be normal again and I hate that.  We built this house and little farm with the idea that there were two of us.  Some days I wade in and do as much as I can to keep it moving and then one little thing will do me in.  It is too much, I can't keep up, and there are some things I just don't know how to do or am not strong enough to do.  And then I am undone again.  Everything is so much work, there is so much I dont know how to do and he is not here to help.  How did I let myself get seduced into being taken such good care of?  I liked it. Sometimes I feel like I was better off before I knew what it felt like to be cared for and loved so well.  Even while I know that it was a great and glorious gift that will open the future to something ever better. 

I'm desperately lonely and I don't want to talk to anyone.  I want to feel normal again and I don't want to feel normal, that feels like some kind of betrayal, even though I know it's not.  I am exhausted on every level.  The last couple of days everything has felt like too much. 

I am reminded of the Somerset Maughm play, "The Razor's Edge."  I should probably read it again, or watch the movie. 

Anyway, this part; when everyone else has gone back to normal, really sucks.  I am floundering trying to figure out what normal is now.  And I have no idea.  I have surrendered to the moment most times, putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best.  Having to believe that I will not be here forever. 

I have seen the Great Blue Heron two more times.  I take it as a sign, even while I also know that it is Spring and it is normal to see him more often. 

I used to have this theory that those of us who had really hard childhood's would catch a break later in life and those who cruised through childhood would have their turn at suffering later.  It worked for me for a while, but it's not working right now.   I wish I knew how to cruise through life, how to avoid feeling so much, but I've never been good at that. 

So I thought to spare the universe my wavering on the Razor's Edge....but it feels pretty good to put it out there. It is our attachment that brings us such pain, but I dont' know, for the life of me, how we love without it. Even when we think we do, we are caught always by those slender threads that bind us to each other and this world. And I guess maybe that's the point of living in these human bodies at this point in time....to learn to walk that edge.

Monday, April 1, 2013

This afternoon one of the cats brought a small wren into the living room.  She let it go, of course, and it flew into the sliding glass doors and then fell behind a cat bed.  I picked it up and held it in my cupped hands while it shook.  I went to stand on the deck with it still in my hands and I noticed it's eyes closing and the trembling stopping.  It just sat quietly while I cupped it gently in my hands and said, "dont you dare die on me."  I must've stood there holding it for ten minutes, willing it not to die, when it simply flew out of my hands to the beam on the far end of the porch.  It sat there for a couple of minutes, looking around before it flew off into the trees.  Miracles abound.  I needed that today.

When Peggy came to take me to run errands and get some lunch I was pacing the living room.  I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, being in the house.  Being on the property.  Couldn't think or even feel really, just restless and antsy.  I needed to be somewhere else, anywhere else.  Grief class again tomorrow, I'll probably find out that this is a normal part of the process.  Maybe they can explain it to me, maybe it's time to get out of the house and back into the world.  Somehow that feels like cheating, it's too soon, if I move on I'll, well.....move on.  But if there is one thing about this whole process that seems to stay true it's that conflicting emotions are par for the course.  It's exhausting.

I need to call on those folks who offered to help, but it takes so much energy and half the time I have no idea what I want so I have no idea what to ask for. 

I found myself wondering what the wren would remember about her time in my cupped hands.  Would it affect her life in any way?  I have always anthropomorphized everything, so I like to think  that time today had some kind of effect on her.  I hope she felt held and cared for and safe and it gave her the time to gain the strength to fly away again into her life.  It's what I want for me, so I will imagine it for her.   I could do worse.