Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Never Not Broken

The Goddess of never not broken.

"You know that feeling when everything is terrible and terrifying and you don’t know what to do, and you find yourself crying in a pile on your bedroom floor, barely able to remember how to use the phone, desperately looking for some sign of God in old letters, or your Facebook newsfeed or on old TV shows, finding nothing there to comfort you?
Come on, yes you do. We all do.
And there is a goddess from Hindu mythology that teaches us that, in this moment, in this pile on the floor, you are more powerful than you’ve ever been."


This came into my inbox today and I was floored by the perfection of timing. 

I was in that place again yesterday and today.  Lulu, my six year old Corgi, started coughing up blood Sunday night.  Always on a Sunday isn't it?  I took her to the all hours vet clinic where they kept her overnight trying to find the cause.  She bled even more, losing an alarming amount of blood, but they could not find out why.  The next morning I took her to Greensville, SC to a vet hospital so that they could do CT scans, scope her stomach and run a million different kinds of tests.  Still no source, they kept her last night and are keeping her again tonight.  No one has ever seen anything like it and I am back where I was this time last year....

Sitting in hospital rooms, expensive tests being run and re-run, knowing there was something wrong but not able to pinpoint or treat it.  Realizing I was going to lose David and having to make decisions about hard things without enough information and from a place of utter exhaustion. 

Broken and broken again.  And the Hindu's have a Goddess for this.  I love that about them.  Also very Catholic, having a saint for everything.  Someone to walk with you through your troubles.  Akhilandeshvari is the Goddess of Never Not Broken.  She rides on the back of a crocodile.  But the point is that living in the broken places allows the light through, allows us to recreate and rebuild who we are, what our story is, and in that brokenness we have the chance to shine with an incredible light and beauty.  But we can only do it broken.

This is not a new idea, every religion and spiritual path has this imagery. 

Christians have Jesus and the cross.  At least, that has always been my image of Jesus.  Broken, dreams lost, the bright and shining future gone, alone and dying.  But he is reborn into new life.  A new life not imagined before his brokenness and only possible through that brokenness. 

We are never not broken and all we can do is dance on the back of that crocodile, riding the waves, allowing the light to shine through and creating something new and beautiful.  The trick is to not become too attached to the beauty because life will break us open again, over and over.  And that is Akhilandeshvari's gift, teaching us to live Never Not Broken. 

It's all I've got.  Living broken open, trying to believe there is beauty in that, and a kind of wild joy if I can find it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More Kindness

As I was working in the garden this morning I thought of some more:

My mom who came up and helped me dig up every single garden bed.  Without questioning me.  Simply because "I have to, it's what we always did."  Even knowing I couldn't possibly work them all. 

She also took me to see baby goats three days after David died.  In spite of the fact that I was pretty sure I didn't want to see baby goats.  Those baby goats brought me a lot of joy as they jumped, and sucked on our fingers and shoelaces, and simply reminded me that new life happens. 

My son, who asked me if I wanted him to come live with me, even though neither of us was real sure about the idea.  Having him here reminds me that I have family, even when we push each other's buttons.  That he realized I would feel alone and cared enough to ask means a great deal.  He's a good guy. 

Parents of my students, who brought their children to David's memorial service.  What a gift that was, to see those young lovely faces; to have children there. 

...and I suspect the list will continue. 


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)
I have always loved this poem and Nye is one of my favorite poets.  This showed up in my inbox today as did the Gratitude Challenge that I signed up for last month.  For 21 days I will be sent a query about gratitude.  Today's was, "Who has done something for you that you cannot possibly pay back?" 
Every day Peggy calls me to check in.  Every. Single. Day.  Still, even now, eight months later.
Peggy and Micheal dropped everything to be with me after David died.  They held me up when I couldn't even see clearly enough to know I needed holding up. 
Jeannie organized.  Food, housing, hospitality, care.
Candace showed up when I called.  She sat with David as he puked his guts out and I went out for yet another round of medication, in a snow storm, in the middle of the night.  She told me the truth when I asked, when no doctors would. 
A woman from my church brought food, but even more important, she brought me a heart rock from the river by her house.  A heart shaped rock that she had held and prayed with.  I spent many an hour holding that rock to my heart, trying desperately to simply breathe in and out.  It helped.  More than you would imagine. 
The staff at Solace, who honored David in his dying.  Every one of them: doctors, social workers, nurses, housekeepers, volunteers.  Every single one of them. 
The folks at a church in Chapel Hill who sent handmade cards every single week that said, "Be happy, be healthy, be holy."  Those cards still come once a month and they are a joy filled gift for me. I imagine whoever it is who makes and sends them and I am so very very grateful. 
Everyone who showed up. 
I know there are more.  So many more.  In the middle of feeling lost and hopeless lately this challenge came today, along with this poem, and I feel gratitude.  There is no way I can ever repay these gifts.  Some of them because I don't even know the folks who gave them, others because the gifts were so large and big and beautiful that there simply is no way to return them.  But I also know that there will be opportunities to pay the gift forward...to offer to others what I have been given.  And that, in itself, is another gift. 
Thank you. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothin' Left to Lose

I went to the beach last week and part way through realized that I felt normal.  I don't even know how to describe it.  There is this heavy weight that is a constant around my shoulders and in my heart and gut.  I've gotten so used to it that I barely notice it.  But it was gone at the beach and I felt something close to happy.  I'm not sure why except that David was not a beach person and the beach has always been my home.  I was home and there were no real memories of shared beautiful times there.  I felt the weight settle again as I came up the mountain and I wanted to scream. 

And now I sit, work, get on with things here and wonder why.  There really seems to be no point to any of it.  I simply want to run, or stop.  What difference would it make anyway? 

We did this exercise in grief group last week.  They asked us to list what we were ready to change, what we wanted to change but weren't ready for, what we did not want to change.  I hit a brick wall...then when it was almost time to stop I realized that I wanted it all to change.  I wanted some different life, not this one.  I wanted to feel joy again, simple clean happiness, to be loved and to love someone, to just not be here.  But then again, how could I want all this to change?  All that this represents?  I'm lost and I just have to accept that I'm lost...for now.  And I have to believe that someday I won't be.  Otherwise, why bother? 

I get fed up...I'm working so hard and yet this doesn't seem to get easier.  I've never encountered a problem that I couldn't work my way out of. 

We had the annual barn dance this weekend.  I dreaded it.  It was a tradition that started after David and I became a part of this farm family.  It was something I had never done as me, always we.  It was hard.  I was grateful for changes; a bonfire this year and new people that I did not know.  I spent most of the time hiding and came home and cried myself to sleep. 

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.  I used to believe in freedom like that, it was a driving force in my life.  Then I met David and loved him.  I'm not sure what that means.  I lost that freedom, I had something to lose and I lost it.  Now, what?  That old paradigm doesn't work anymore, but it's tempting, so very tempting.  Chuck it all and disappear.  How do you build a new paradigm?  I have to trust that it happens, one day at a time...sometimes one moment at a time. And at some point I will look back on this time and find meaning in it.  Right now?  I bounce between a million different desires and mostly try to stay in one place.