Thursday, May 30, 2013

Today is three months.  Actually twelve weeks.  It depends on how you count.  I remember wondering early on how long it would be before I quit marking time in days and weeks.  Today I felt ready to think in terms of months.  Progress of a sort. 

I was moving mulch (still) and thought for a moment that it might be close to six, looking at my phone it was 6:04.  Such intuitive timing! I sat down and went still for ten minutes or so.  Just feeling, remembering, honoring.  Somehow three months felt like it deserved that.  I could feel his presence all around me, gentle and humorous and it made me smile and cry at the same time.  I have been hurt and angry and sad thinking that I was not able to feel him with me.  So many folks talk about those kinds of experiences.  Then today I realized that his presence is always there, it's just so subtle I hadn't been paying attention.  I feel better. 

Marking this time, I recognize how much things have changed.  Thinking of David, feeling his presence, brings me quiet pleasure now, not searing pain.  I can cry quietly, not with out of control sobbing.  I am comforted by the house, not running from it.  A wise friend told me that when her partner was fighting cancer she marked her calendar six weeks in the future to remind herself that things would change.  And then when she got there she could honor where she had been and where she was now.  In one of my darkest days I marked six weeks out.  I'm not there yet, I think it's three more weeks, but marking this three month anniversary offers the same opportunity.  Life moves forward, I move forward, and David is with me even when he isn't here or felt.  We are never alone, we really are all one...always a part of each other, connected throughout time and space.  This I know is true.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ah old friend.  More coffee?

Another thing that keeps me up at night:  I feel as if I have disappointed so many people since David died.  I keep talking about him having been a buffer between me and the world. That's not exactly the right word, but I haven't worked around to the right one yet. 

People saw me through him.  Well, not everyone, but a lot of folks.  And I think they liked me better then.  He gentled me, smoothed off my rough edges, somehow made me a little less edgy.  I keep trying to explain that to folks who express dismay at having to deal with DiannewithoutDavid.  It also doesn't help that grief seems to make me more, well just.... more. 

There are lots of folks who knew me before David and seemed to love me just fine.  And I am grateful for them, they have kept me slightly less off center.  But oh I am struggling with this trying to find myself again and being okay with folks who are struggling with that. 

There are a lot of things no one tells you.  This is one of them.  There will be people who see you through a certain lense and they will often be less than okay when that lense is no longer there.  You will be struggling to figure out this new hybrid you while these folks are unhappy.  It's not easy.  It's weird.  It's uncomfortable. It's life changing.  And, oh, make sure you have folks in your life who see you through other lenses besides the "couple" one, they will be important.  They will help you remember.  They are the people whose presence you can rest in.  And you will need rest. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I hate nights like this.  I am so tired, I go to bed and then lay there for an hour tossing and turning and thinking and remembering.  I just want to knock myself out. 

I am turning this idea of me before, me during and now what?  over and over and over.  I go over every detail of who I used to be and the miracle that David and I ever found each other.  And then I start on the time we had together and how that was so very very different from the time before David.  And then I try to fashion new futures out of that kaleidoscope of experience.  It doesn't matter that I cannot possibly hit on the "right" one....My mind careens around and around trying out new designs. 

Night has never been my favorite time, it's always been hard for me.  My brain simply doesn't turn off and even when I manage to fall asleep, I sleep as if I am awake and watching.  I love those drugs that make you fall asleep and then you wake up , boom, eight hours later.  Rest.  Really, is this how everyone else does it?  But those things can't possibly be good for you. 

So, David was no one I should've ever fallen in love with.  He was in the air force, I kept my income low enough so that I didn't pay taxes because I didn't like the way the government spent my money.  I especially didn't like how they spent most of it on the war machine.  He worked for a big corporation, corporations being things I tried to stay far away from.  He wore a Rolex, lived in a million dollar home, and drove a big fancy truck, a gas hog. Other things I tried to stay away from.  And he was almost twenty years older than I was.  None of these things mattered.  I knew him first as an amazingly kind, thoughtful, caring person.  It was only after it was too late that I found out all the reasons why I should never have even considered having him in my life. 

And I, I was not someone he would have ever considered in his life either.  For most of the above reasons.  Somehow we managed to see beyond our externals to the light that was within us. 

I was laying in bed, not sleeping, and thinking about all of this.  Thinking about those last days in the house and the peace we had together, before he became so confused and lost.  How much we loved what we had created here.  Not just the space, but the life and love.  We just wanted a little more time. 

And now what do I do?  What do I believe?  Who am I?  Where do I go next?  I don't know much.  But I believe in the light that lives in us all.  I believe in kindness and love.  I believe we have to do all we can to live in that love and light.  And we have to fight the darkness, shining our light into it any way we can.  I don't know how you build a life with that, or even how you change the world with that, but it's all I've got right now. 

A woman I knew a long time ago wrote these words in a song:  "you are light, you are love, you are blessings from above and I am blessed to know you...."  I guess that's really all we've ever got. 

So yesterday as I was shoveling yet another wheelbarrow load of mulch this thought flickered through my mind:  "this is not my dream."  After three days of moving mulch, weeding the garden and fixing the chicken coop, "this is not my dream."  While I love it and actually often feel happy in the midst of it, it was  not my dream.  My dream was to live below the radar, to own as little as possible and to live on a little sailboat.  Maybe join the peacecorp for awhile.  I went to the website last night and I still have a pending application there. 

David was never going to buy into that dream, so we created a new one.  I know I never regretted the giving up of the old for the new.  I don't think he did either.  But this little farm and the shop and house that we created was our dream. 

I find myself living in a very concrete example of what I have been existentially feeling.  I know who I was before David, I know who I was with him, I have no idea who I am going into the future.  I have been toying with the idea of going back to the old dream.  One of the things that frightens and overwhelms me is all this "stuff" I now own and am responsible for.  What if I just sold it all, gave it all away, and joined the Peacecorp?  Used a little of the money and bought that sailboat?  I simply don't know.  I got used to sharing a dream, working together, creating something together.  I'm not sure I could go back to living a life alone.  Just me and the ocean, just me and a whole new culture.  It's tempting...very tempting right now. 

But I also know that time is my friend in this.  I need to listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before me...wait a year, let the dust settle, see how way opens before you.  The future will bring something new, something bigger, something different that comes from all the Me's I have been before, the me I am now.  Waiting is the hard part.  I just want to DO SOMETHING.....anything, to be through this.  And, I don't want to rush through, unseeing, unfeeling.  I dont' want to waste this Holy time.  We live in the center of paradox and it is extraordinary work to hold the tension and still feel peace.  But, oh that little sailboat!!! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Been a while.  I've been unloading a never ending trailer of mulch.  And missing David, we usually did it together and it was not only easier, it was more fun.  I'm exhausted and still have more to go, on top of the normal range of never ending chores. I did not appreciate nearly enough all that David did.   But once more today I realized I felt happy and alive again.  I've cried my fair share too...but mostly out of frustration rather than sadness. 

David was a buffer between my intense reactions and the world.  He smoothed the way with people, something I have never been good at.  And oh, I could use that now.  So many folks I interact with right now only knew me through the David lens.  We are struggling to navigate new terrain.  It is not easy and sometimes I'm not sure I care.  It's a whole new way of finding myself in the world again.  I knew who I was as me alone, I knew who I was with David, now I am in the world that was so often filtered through him and I dont' know how to be in it and I'm pretty sure it doesn't know how to be with me either.  I look up and curse the heavens sometimes.  Not only is he not here to filter/buffer, he's not here to talk to about it later.  I want someone to process everything with. I am lost and tired.

It's a weird thing, suddenly you wake up one day and the world looks the same but it's not the same.  And the people around you either continue to act as if it was the same or they start acting in these odd ways.  It's shifting sand and hard to keep my balance.  But once again there is no way out but through. Over and over again, my mantra.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I felt happy today.  It surprised me, stopped me in my tracks.  Whoa, what is that feeling?  And then almost immediately, "when will I crash again?"  Okay, take a deep breath.

The week has been a bittersweet one but slowly improving.  Yesterday I talked about that whole being in the present thing and remembering the past without falling on the floor sobbing.  Okay, good insight right?  Then I went to yoga class....

The teacher started with a talk about Ganesha, the elephant god, the remover of obstacles and the one who makes way for new paths.  Yay...great, here we go again.  But I went with it, even though I get a lot of not so subtle messages around this theme.  I worked my butt off and thought about obstacles being removed and finding some new path forward.  At the end of class I was in tears, quiet tears, but tears just the same.  During the final meditation I had this image of me exhausted, dirty, angry, sad...having worked my way up a cold, wet, muddy, rock strewn mountain...coming through the clouds into sun and able to see off into the distance.  It felt hopeful, peaceful, not finished but a turning point. This took me by surprise, heavy handed as it was, and since then I have been feeling something new.

Last night at dinner with my son, I felt it but did not yet recognize it.  This morning walking Lulu I felt it and recognized it.  Me.  I was me again.  Just me.  An I, not a We anymore.  I had crossed some invisible line from being a part of a We, and then a half of a We, to being me. I remember when I became a mother and suddenly was not just Me anymore.  I remember when I was getting to know David and being very aware of the process of becoming a We.  But then it became the water I swam in and I forgot anything else.  So much of the pain has been feeling as if I had been thrown out into oxygen again and had forgotten how to breath. Suddenly I took a deep breath.  And remembered. 

And you know what?  It's not so bad.  Just different.  I might make it after all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If I can stay in the present moment life is beautiful.  All my pain comes from remembering the past or fearing the future.  Simple concept, hard to implement.  We hear it all the time right?  But it's true.  It's really and truly True. 

I sat on the deck this morning with tears and coffee.  A common enough occurrence.  This morning I enjoyed the morning and was grateful for it.  I kept remembering our trip to Thailand and then the week before and day of David's death.  Tears.  Silent gentle tears not ripping sobs, which is a movement forward.  When I felt myself heading into the future I just stopped.  All that does is immobilize me.  Then determined, I got up and took the dog for a walk, practicing being present in the moment.  Sometimes it works. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The future is bigger than our imaginations. It’s unimaginable, and then it comes anyway. To meet it we need to keep going, to walk past what we can imagine. We need to be unstoppable. And here’s what it takes: you don’t stop walking to congratulate yourself; you don’t stop walking to wallow in despair; you don’t stop because your own life got too comfortable or too rough; you don’t stop because you won; you don’t stop because you lost. There’s more to win, more to lose, others who need you.

You don’t stop walking because there is no way forward. Of course there is no way. You walk the path into being, you make the way, and if you do it well, others can follow the route. You look backward to grasp the long history you’re moving forward from, the paths others have made, the road you came in on. You look forward to possibility. That’s what we mean by hope, and you look past it into the impossible and that doesn’t stop you either. But mostly you just walk, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. That’s what makes you unstoppable.

Rebecca Solnit’
 Pancho Ramos-Stierle,  “How can we create alternatives that are so beautiful that they just naturally are in conflict with a collapsing and broken system?”

This is a quote from Yes Magazine.  A magazine I love but will have to read at the library from now on.  Money is uncertain, life is changing and I am not even sure how yet.  I woke up crying today and cried my way through most of this day, stopping to tutor a student and interact with the financial advisor I have begun working with.  I simply have no idea how to decide what to do with the small amount of money I have, I am trusting him to guide me in this.  It helps that he tells me he has lots of clients  like me, who come to him crying, overwhelmed, with piles of paper that they do not understand.  But I planted a looooong row of sweet potatoes and suddenly the day wasn't a move to Australia day any more. 

The quote above is talking about our systems: medical, schools, political, that are broken; and how  we address those things.  He suggests that instead of trying to redo what is broken, instead of patching up, instead of trying to continue to create a system that no longer works....instead of all those options, why not create something new and beautiful and amazing.  Something new, perhaps not based on the old. 

Somehow this thrills me.  It thrills me for the world I live in, for the work I do, and for my small personal system that often feels as if it is now broken and collapsing.  I can, I will, create an alternative so beautiful that collapsing and broken is not an option.  If I find a way to do this in my external world, in my work, I can't help but do it in my internal world as well.  Right?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Objects fly through the air, stars wheel through the universe. All fall eventually. If we become obsessed with definitively mastering the decline, we are lost. If we achieve peace within the intervals of rising and falling, we find grace.(Arthur Chandler, On the Symbolism of Juggling: The Moral and Aesthetic Implications of the Mastery of Falling Objects.

a friend sent me this quote this week and I have not been able to let go of fascinates me.  I actually went and read the article and that fascinated me too.  I wish the idea of finding peace within the intervals of rising and falling fascinated me as much.  Mostly right now those intervals just irritate me.  I am not yet at peace with intervals, I want to keep that ball up.  Just up.  Up would be good.  But I am fascinated with the peace within the rising and falling...what a lovely idea.  It feels doable.  Possible.  I can imagine the rhythm of the juggler, the grace and beauty of the pattern.  Maybe I can do this.
I woke up this morning to the first BobWhite call I've heard this year.  And I made it to church and stayed the entire time, without crying.  A first.

I find it helpful and interesting that the journey from Easter to Pentacost has mirrored my journey with David's death.  It is not often that life here and now lines up with the life of the church year.

Today is Pentacost, the day the Holy Spirit breathed new life on the disciples.  Our church's name day, Church of the Holy Spirit.  David, the rector, spoke about the Holy Spirit being represented by the Wild Goose in Celtic Christianity and he told a wonderful story about the power of the mama goose.  If you have ever been near one you know that they are not to be triflied with.  I love the idea that the Holy Spirit is more like the wild goose than the dove that we are so used to. 

Death is not just about the one who dies. The Holy comes into the life of those still living, breathing new life, shaking everything up.  Like the desciples I cannot go back to my old life but I have no idea what will come next. I have lost the other who provided a rudder, helped shape my life. The Holy does not come to provide comfort or ease or even a better life, it comes to shake things up.  To chase me like that wild goose, scaring me, causing me to scramble and struggle, harrassing me until I move in the direction it wants me to move. 

Once death happens, there is no going back. My journey, having David die and being left behind, is exactly the journey the disciples took.  The lovely amazing future we expected no longer exists.  The beloved is gone.  We are lost, confused, angry, resigned.  But we have been changed and there is no going back to life before.  What now?  The beloved is with us always but never to be held, seen, touched again.  And we are pushed, changed, asked to do what we cannot imagine doing.  The Holy working in our lives.  It is not comfortable, it is not easy, it can be terrifying...but I am comforted by the knowledge that the wild goose Holy essence is with me.  Pushing, asking, expecting...but with me.  Not seperate, not above or below, in front or behind...with

That is the commandment and the promise....we are to be with each other and we will be with the Holy and the Holy will be with us.  And all will be well and all manner of things will be well.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Old Man, Old Man
Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?

He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.
~ David Wagoner ~
(Traveling Light)
I wake each morning and feel around my soul, my heart; like you do when you have a sore tooth.  How does it feel today?  Better?  Worse?  I find a sigh of relief when it is simply the same.  I will take that over worse, I do not yet hope for better.  I practice bending forward over my heart, hoping to hear the answers and the secrets it holds. 
In kindness, people tell me to keep busy so I don't think or feel too much.  I can't do that.  When I do not take time each day to feel my way through this I am usually blindsided by something later on.  There is no way out but through.  I do what needs to be done, I try to say yes to people and activities, and I keep space to feel what needs to be felt each day.  I have a magnet on my refridgerator that says, "when you are going through Hell keep on walking."  A quote by someone like General McArthur and it's been turned into a country song.  I like that.  A universal truth for military generals, country folks, and grievers alike.  Pay attention to the landscape, but keep on walking.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.
Struck, the dancers hear a tambourine inside them,
as a wave turns to foam on its very top, begin.
Maybe you don’t hear that tambourine,
or the tree leaves clapping time.
Close the ears on your head
that listen mostly to lies and cynical jokes.
There are other things to hear and see:
dance-music and a brilliant city
inside the Soul.
Stretch your arms and take hold of the cloth of your clothes
with both hands. The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both,
you don't belong with us.
I got the book from the Caringbridge site today.  I decided to print one copy, just to have in case anything happened to the site.  I couldn't really read it at first, so I set it aside. Then I had to cover it with the newspaper.  Scared.  After walking Lulu I picked it up and again read the first few posts.  They are so positive and hopeful even knowing the diagnosis.  I was surprised that I didn't feel sad but rather curious and peaceful.  Of course it is the begining and I was not exhausted, lost and confused yet.  I am struck at the fact that no matter how hard David's dying was it was nothing compared to this after time.  As long as he was still alive he was there, he was with me and we were in this together.  It was so much easier. 

It's later in the evening now and my day is over.  I carried the book over to the desk to set it aside still scares me a bit...and then opened it to the day before David died and read those last few posts.  Even then I was still so positive and hopeful.  Shock probably.  I am struck again by how much harder this daily living is without him.  How as long as he was still alive we had our life together, whatever it consisted of, it was still ours and not simply mine. 

I tried to cook dinner again tonight and, well, it was edible but not good.  David's redbud tree came and it was planted up near the high barn.  Micheal and the farm helper did it on Monday.  Today was the first day I went to see it.  It's just a stick in the ground right now with a few tiny leaves begining to unfurl, but it will be beautiful next year.  I had thought we would put his ashes under the tree, have some kind of ceremony; but I kind of like that it just got planted during the working of the day.  The hay has been laid down around it and is drying getting ready to be bailed. It fits.  Maybe on the year anniversary it will be a good place to mark the time.  I still don't know what to do with his ashes, but I am learning to wait until something becomes clear.  There is no hurry.

Tonight it is 2 1/2 months since David died.  I mark those Thursdays, every week.  I wonder how long it will be before I forget to do that?  When the marking comes further apart, months instead of weeks, years instead of months?  It feels like it just happened and it feels lifetimes since he died.  An odd kind of time outside of time. 

I feel as if I should have something profound to say but I simply don't.  Today was just a day, tinged with sadness but easier than the last few have been.  Something that I am recognizing as the new normal.  At least for now. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A photo of David popped up on my facebook feed today and it almost did me in, I hate it when I get taken by surprise like that.  I could feel him through that photo, one that had not become common for me to see.  The last few days I have been disconcerted by the fact that I can't remember what his voice sounded like or his laugh.  I can't really quite remember his smell.  I can still remember his touch and sometimes I turn and sort of see him out of the corner of my eye in places around the house.  In some ways I am grateful for the fading and in others it scares the hell out of me.  I found myself looking at one of his photos today and saying, "I don't know why I am hanging on to you, you left me without any trouble."  Not very nice of me, but sometimes I don't feel very nice about any of this. 

I see the photos of those last couple of weeks and I am struck by the difference in his essence, it shows even in the photos.  In the much earlier ones from five years ago he is strong, almost full of himself.  In the later ones he looks thinner, more fragile, but happier.  It seems the more the disease progressed the more gentle he became.  He settled in, took more time, was present in a way that he often struggled with before.  I wish I had had more time with him in that space.  But like so many major transitions in life it was full of activity and people.  Still, I treasure the days and moments we had, they really were an extraordinary gift. 

Sometimes it feels like I will never get through this and that really scares me.  I know people probably want me to get over it, I am jealous of the people who got to go home to "normal" after the services, and I am sick of this struggle and tired of whining about it.  But honestly, I also read and hear that everyone does this in their own way and own time.  So....

Anne Lamontt : "just do it: badly is fine"

Beckett:  "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


Just show up. Be brave. Be kind. Rest. Try again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I have started back to swimming again and I cried with every lap today.  The last time I swam was right after David's diagnosis and I cried with every lap then too.  Then I stopped...everything.  To be with David.  Sitting at the desk is hard but another hard thing is going back to the old stuff.  Driving into work again, swimming, going to the tailgate market and knowing that David is not at home to say hi to when I am finished.  I don't have anyone to share the stories of the day with.  It's a different kind of lonely when someone is missing from when there was never anyone there to begin with. 

I'm sad and tired and tired of being sad.  I know it gets better, I know it gets better, I know it gets better, a new mantra.  In the meantime I put one foot in front of the other.  I wish I knew where I was heading. That's all I've got right now.  I miss someone here, on my side, enjoying life with me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

There is no rhyme or reason to this process.  Today was good, not lovely, but good.  I spent the day planting things and digging up the last part of the garden. I planted some more veggies and will get more in the ground soon. I am always happiest working in the dirt.  The son of one of our local farmers came and did the weed eating that I haven't managed to figure out how to do.  I have three weed eaters and I can barely lift any of them.  I keep threatening to go buy a "girl" weed electric lightweight one.  I am grateful for Chris, he is funny and knowledgeable and just plain good to have around. 

Some dear friends from church came by to help me think about David's shop and wood.  I am not sure I'm ready to do anything about it, but information about what is there and what it is worth is good to know.  And it overwhelms me, so their willingness to take it on is a huge gift.  I know I cannot leave it as a shrine to David, someday it will have to become something else.  Just writing that makes me sad, but it's sad going in the shop, it's sad looking out at it every day.  But sad is a big part of my life right now.

Everyone keeps telling me it gets easier.  Not quickly, but eventually.  I'd give a lot to be able to just feel horrible for a couple of weeks and then be done with it. I really don't like not having the ability to change something.  I'm one for getting a task and working hard at it, getting it done.  Having to simply go with what life throws at me and walking through it, makes me a little crazy.  One friend tells me I am in the process of becoming someone new and different, someone I can't even imagine right now.  I want to know who that person is, right now.  I remember when Jesse was born I wanted to just be able to go into the future 20 years and see who he was.  Then come back and go through life.  I wish I could do that now too. 

So, today was a day.  A good day, especially compared to yesterday. 
Oh, yesterday was hard hard hard.  I'm not sure why...Mother's Day?  Even though David and I were not much on holidays?  Just another round of deep grief?  I find myself wishing I could just feel it all at once and get it over with.  At one point yesterday I was on my knees in the dirt of the garden, sobbing and crying, "I just can't do this anymore.  It's too hard."  Maybe it's the beauty of Spring, and the work of the garden and how I can't keep up.  Maybe it's just what it is.  I find myself begging him to just come back now.  Which step is that in the grief process?  Bargaining?  I hate that stupid grief process.  It's different from a breakup....with breakups the person is still in the world, there is still possibility, even when there isn't.  Folks don't come back from death.  Hope is a hard thing to hold on to in this case. 

I got myself to church, late.  And had to leave early, but I got there.  The rector spoke of what it must have been like for the followers of Jesus.  To be lost and confused and fearful, having lost the person they loved so much, the person who was leading them to something new and different and better.  And then he was back with them.  What joy that must have been.  But then ascension happens and they watch him leave them again.  Despair.  I can relate to all of this, what I wish, how I would feel, and I'm not sure I could stand the second loss.  David (the rector) said, "Ascension leads to Pentecost."  I haven't been able to let go of that phrase.  Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit blows through and cleans everything out, brings peace and purpose back into their lives. I could use some of that.  We never know when it will happen, but to go on, I have to believe it will. 

Bobby McFerrin does a version of the 23rd Psalm using the feminine pronoun and I love it, especially the part where he says "the mother, and the daughter, and the Holy of Holies."  So much better than, "the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost."  I am ready for the Holy of Holies to breathe some new life into my grief and fear and loss. 

Let's remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.

As Wordsworth said, remove
"The dust of custom" so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we'll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
~ Gregory Orr ~

Friday, May 10, 2013

I seem to be back in a similar space that I was during the time David was in Solace.  I'm exhausted but can't really sleep.  I drift, my mind going in a thousand different directions, when I should be focused or better yet, sleeping.  When I was with him and he was dying, it made sense and felt almost normal.  Now it just gets in the way.  I am trying to find my way back to normal, I have to work and go to meetings and deal with life outside of the protected environment of the Solace Center.  This isn't really working.  But like so much else, I don't know what to do and I simply have to accept it and trust it and work with it.  There is a lot to be learned in this process, about control or the lack thereof. 

I had a meeting with the grief counselor today.  I am so very grateful for her.  Grief is what she DOES, everything I come out with seems to make perfect sense to her.  And she tells me the truth, which can be hard to come by.  "yeah, it sucks.  Yeah, it hurts, and it's gonna hurt for a long time.  Yep, this is some of the hardest work you will ever do."  And then she somehow helps me find something to hold onto.   

Today we were getting ready to do some difficult work and the begining of that process was to get in touch, as clearly as possible, with a "safe space."  You know, that place where you are calm, at peace, safe.  That magical place in your mind where  everything you need, you have.  For most of my life I have had a very specific place, I was on good terms with this space and could get there quickly and easily.  Today I noticed a great sadness in this space. Here is why: When I realized that even though I had told David, myself, everyone, that I had let him go, I really hadn't and I knew I was holding him back.  I had to find a way to let him go and the only way I could do it was to go to that place and mentally and emotionally keep myself there while I watched him walk away and into the light.  It was truly the hardest thing I have ever done and I had to leave the building after that or I would've taken it all back and held on as tightly as I could.  Two hours later he began actively dying and was gone four hours after that. 

That safe space made that possible, but it holds that moment for me and the pain of it.  I need to find a new place in my mind, my heart, my soul.  So many goodbyes and so many new beginings.  My heart breaks over and over again and I do not yet approach the new beginings with anticipation, only a weary sense of duty. 

Where is your safe space?  That place where your heart expands, your soul rests, and you are given the strength to face what needs to be faced? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This was in my inbox today, from Carrie Newcomer:

There are several phrases that people say (with all good intention and desire to comfort) that have always troubled me. One of those phrases is "God never gives us more than we can bear." I really do understand that this phrase is meant to give courage and remind us of all the times we struggled, survived, and remained whole. It is good to remember that even when we are struggling or wounded, that we do have resources (our own spirit, our community and loved ones, The Light that walks with us even in the darkest times).
But to me how the phrase is constructed implies a god that would intentionally "give" us the worst sorrows of our lives. Implying a god that is either very cruel or very capricious. Secondly, it implies that we must not fail, or fall apart, or be wounded in ways that it takes a life time to try to heal - that terribly wounded person must be outside The Light.

... So I've come up with other things to say that hopefully convey my presence and the presence of something made wholly of Light. I usually say, "I am here for you, your loved ones and community are here for you-you are not a lone." Or " I know you are doing the best you can- what looks like help right now? " Many times just being present is enough- no words are necessary. A touch or a hug is all that is needed. 

(Painting by Julia Rogers based upon the song Three Women)

The Wednesday Speed of Soul Conversation Circle

There are several phrases that people say (with all good intention and desire to comfort) that have always troubled me.   One of those phrases is "God never gives us more than we can bear." I really do understand that this phrase is meant to give courage and remind us of all the times we struggled, survived, and remained whole.  It is good to remember that even when we are struggling or wounded, that we do have resources (our own spirit, our community and loved ones, The Light that walks with us even in the darkest times). 
 But to me how the phrase is constructed implies a god that would intentionally "give" us the worst sorrows of our lives.  Implying a god that is either very cruel or very capricious. Secondly, it implies that we must not fail, or fall apart, or be wounded in ways that it takes a life time to try to heal - that terribly wounded person must be outside The Light.    

So I've come up with other things to say that hopefully convey my presence and the presence of something made wholly of Light.   I usually say, "I am here for you, your loved ones and community are here for you-you are not a lone."  Or " I know you are doing the best you can- what looks like help right now? "  Many times just being present is enough- no words are necessary.  A touch or a hug is all that is needed.  

So what do you think? Has this or other "stock" phrases of comfort troubled you because of their unintentional messages? Do you have an alternative phrase that better communicates your desire to be of comfort and help in times of struggle or sorrow?

(Painting by Julia Rogers based upon the song Three Women)

    I have been surprised by who shows up and who doesn't, who is comfortable and who isn't, and how folks show their care for both me and David during this process.  It's not always the people I would've thought. 
    I too struggle with those well meant phrases.  "At least it was short and quick", 'You're young you'll recover quickly", and the one I dislike the most right now:  "At least he's in a better place and looking down and caring for you."  I probably dislike it the most because I don't feel him looking down and caring for me, I feel particularly alone most of the time.  I don't feel his loving presence, I don't  have him coming to me in dreams or hear his voice or catch a whiff of his scent.  He is simply not here.  In my heart I think I believe that he did indeed go to some better place, he became one with the light and love that is at the core of this world.  And that is a good thing.  But why would he be interested in looking down on me?  He's simply gone on to a place of blazing light and love.  And I suspect the idea of me as a seperate being from him and all the rest of that light and love just isn't a reality any more.  Once we are there, this reality no longer exists.  Anyway, that's where I am these days.  So it's not very comforting to have folks tell me he is looking down sharing in my joys and sorrows.  I feel more as if I have been left behind until it is my time to return to the Source. 
    And right now it often feels like getting through, day by day.  I believe that will change, but it's going to take some time.  And in the meantime the things that are really comforting and helpful are simple presence.  Get me up and out of the house, have a cup of coffee with me and talk about your life, give me a hug, take me on a hike, dance with me.  I don't need comforting words, I need comforting presence. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I walked Lulu this morning down a ribbon of white sand road under a tunnel of Live Oaks hung with Spanish moss. We are in farm country, fields of watermelons on one side, cows on the other. I hear the Bobwhites in the fields and the mockingbird in the trees.  The pouring rains of the last three days have gone and blue skies and cool breezes have appeared in their place, a rarity for Florida this time of year.  It's wonderful.  I feel at peace here.

I find myself almost forgetting who I was with David.  He only came with me to Florida one time, so most of my experience of myself here is as someone other than a part of us.  I do find myself thinking at night that there is something I need to do and then I realize it's call home.  And it's sad not needing to do that.   I loved being married, being a part of a partnership, and I miss it. 

The wedding yesterday was sweet.  A crazy, chaotic, cacophony of Hope.  I keep thinking about how we humans live from hope, even if we don't think we do.  We have weddings and babies, we plant trees and gardens, we teach and learn and plan for the future.  All signs of hope.  We can't do without it, no matter how much we might like to believe we can.  I was full of mixed emotions yesterday.  happy for the young couple, remembering with both joy and sadness David's and my getting married, not sure where I fit in. I am not a single woman but I had no partner to dance with.  I am too young to be a widow, not ready and yet having no choice.  All I could think to tell these young people was to say I love you, every day...three times a day...even when you don't want to.  Tell him, tell her.  Often.  And hope and dream, you can't do anything else anyway so you might as well go with it.  Enjoy the hell out of it.  Every minute of it. 

A cacophony of hope....I like that phrase.  It is everywhere around and within us, it defines us.  It's everywhere we look, so loud that it becomes the background noise of life and we don't even realize anymore that it is there.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I stopped on my way into Florida today at my favorite "hello" and "Goodbye" spot, a side of the road access to the Sante Fe River.  The Sante Fe is a spring fed river and runs crystal clear except when there have been hard rains, then it runs brown with Tannin water from the deeper darker rivers of Florida.  There was no one there, it's a workday and raining.  Lulu and I hopped out and took a walk along the river, smelling that good Florida smell, watching the ospreys watch us, and greeted by an oddly out of place pair of white ducks who followed us along the bank.  Somehow I breathe deeper when I hit the Georgia lowcountry and the back roads of Florida. 

I bent down to run my hands through the water and was surprised by how warm it was.  I had momentarily forgotten that spring water is always 72 degrees.  When it's 98 outside it is icy cold but on days like today when it is only 65, it feels warm and welcoming.  I thought briefly about stopping at the local state park and taking a short tubing trip but the rains started again and we ran for the car. 

There is something wonderful about the constancy of the spring water.  Always the same while the world around it changes.  It is not the water that changes but our external experience of it.  Much like love.  The Love that created and sustains this universe is always present, unchanging, to be counted on.  It is us, me, who changes and moves.  I think I'm going to start thinking of the Sante Fe when I think about the Love that lives in this world.  That is something I can wrap my head and heart around.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Never, not once in the five and a half years we were together did I wonder if I would be happier with someone else, or alone.  This is kind of a record for me.  My previous "happy" record had been about six months.  With David, I never looked at anyone else and wondered what it might be like.  I never wondered what I was doing here and how the hell might I get out.  I didn't have an exit strategy.  In retrospect I find that extraordinary.  I always have an exit strategy.  I suspect this is monumentaly important.  Maybe not.  But I learned something important.  It is possible to be happy with another person.  Really happy.  That had never really occured to me as an option before.  Small gifts, great wonders. 
Walking the dog this morning I remembered a post I wrote on at the very begining of this journey.  I talked about how the landscape of the creek had changed recently and how much the landscape of our lives was changing.  Everything keeps coming round full circle.  Grief is not a forward movement but a series of upward spirals. 

The creek is still rushing with deep muddy water from heavy rains last weekend and once again the landscape has changed.  New sandbars have emerged, gravel beaches have formed and even large rocks have moved location.  It takes a long time for the water to settle into it's old familiar depth and color.  The landscape changes constantly in reaction to these spring rains.  Just when the creek seems to settle in again we get another big rain.  But yesterday I saw the jawbone of some animal, perhaps one of our local big cats, it had a large fang, too big for a domestic cat.  I was tempted to bring it home but somehow it felt like it needed to stay in it's new home.  At least for a while.  Nearby I also found a Columbine growing up out of the new mud.  What a beautiful gift!  I found myself hoping it would stay and flourish, but I know it probably won't.  It is right on the edge of the water and the next flooding rain will probably take it away.  I thought of moving it to higher ground, but wondered if my interfering would cause equal damage.  Birth, death, and rebirth.  Best to let it be, most likely.

Probably too much metaphor, but I was taken with it all.  My life feels very much like the life of the creek these days.  I find some sense of a new normal and then a flood changes everything.  I find small gifts and never know if they will stay and change the landscape or not.  I wait, wait, wait for the mud to settle and the clear blue water to return and I catch my breath when I think of the next big rain.  I am so tired of new landscapes, I would like to know what to expect each day.  To go to the place where I know the Columbine is flourishing, to see again where I found Fire Pinks last year, to sit on my favorite rock and watch the depths of the creek swirling with that amazing blue green that fades to clear near the shore.  It makes me tired to think that life will simply keep up this endless spiral.  I know it's good, I know it's right, I know it's the way of the world.  But it makes me tired.