No Destination Required…

The summer flew by melting everything in its path and scorching the green ground beneath us. While September dawned, the acrid heat of summer lingered and fall snuck surreptitiously in the back door. The air is autumn crisp and it crackles with seasonal suspense. The winter is coming but first a display of the magnificence blazing colored leaves, dotting the horizon, a feast for the senses and artists alike. There are roads to be explored and adventures to be had around each corner. 

And so this summer began with my oldest son getting his driving permit. We practiced daily and for any reason, “out of bread? need air in the tires?”. It was disconcerting to find myself getting in to the passenger seat, watching my son navigate the roads with ease, and confidence, (it’s the confidence that scares me), and having no control. My youngest, urgently sensing the unforeseen benefits of his own looming freedom, suddenly became more interested in the mechanics and responsibilities of driving.

The sands of time had fallen one granule at a time and I found myself in the role of the wise (I’m going to leave the word “old” out for obvious reasons) sage. I sat transfixed, listening to my sons talk, unprompted, about their school, friends, hopes and dreams. If we had we been sitting at home, in our usual routines, I might have gotten a few grunts between bites of food, perhaps a head nod or two. But here in this magic car, in our own cocoon, seeking out unknown routes and looking for adventure, and most of all new places to eat, we were having conversations. We rode in comfortable silence, or debated philosophy, politics, religion, and relaxed while the countryside and it’s farm stands flew by. 

In these quiet moments of concentration, watching my sons driving, becoming young men, I sat back in silent gratitude and soaked in every moment. I prayed I would always remember this hot, hazy summer of their budding independence and hopeful dreams. The future, once far away, and out of reach seemed impossibly close, as if it was just around the next corner. I’ll cherish the memories of the smell of the freshly mowed grass as we drove by. Or the sticky ice cream cones that melted in their hands and made the two of them laugh like little boys. There were unexpected water fights, the ever-present eye rolls, non-stop suggestions, and the awkward hugs that feel more like small body slams by Olympic wrestlers wrapped in Axe body spray, than a soft place to land. 

The picture doesn’t look  how I imagined it one year ago but I do think my aunt would be pleased. I’m still looking forward to aimless magical rides throughout the seasons, on roads I have never been, looking for new adventures only now it’s with my sons. I have come full circle. No words necessary. No destination required.

Grace has arrived…

A sure sign that healing takes its own sweet time but when it’s time to start blooming again the colors are deeper, richer, and more vibrant. Life resumes, sounds float effortlessly into my consciousness and my senses slowly return. The tear in my heart has been re-stitched and the tapestry that is me, moves to incorporate this fissure and make it part of the mosaic that is my life. I am not whole but I am no longer ripped asunder. Grace has arrived.

 

 

 

Riptide…

 

It’s been months since I’ve written and I wish I could have been able to express what I was feeling. I confess, my grief just wouldn’t allow me to do much else but ponder, ruminate, and contemplate…the desolation of nothingness and nowhere. I just didn’t have any words or ideas to communicate. My spirit had folded in on itself and I was working on putting one foot in front of the other, and mimicking some version of myself.

Mourning is an all-consuming process and it refused to ebb and flow on my command so finally I surrendered to melancholy and sorrow. I gave myself permission to activate my copilot, but inside my mind, I vacillated between frenzied hysteria and eerie, lonely silence.

For me grief reminded me of swimming in the ocean when I as a kid. I would dare myself to swim out as far as I could, where the water was dark and cold. My teeth would chatter and my skin would wrinkle and prune and with my eyes wide open, I would submerge my head under the mysterious swirling black water and despite the burning from the briny depths of the gauzy green sea, I would open my eyes. Under the misty water, the silence was soothing, aquatic life floated by seemingly oblivious to my anguished presence. There are no human sounds,  emotions are muted, distorted and insignificant. Looking up at the sky through the kaleidoscope of the foamy waves, the sun can be seen floating, glittery and hazily in the distance like a diamond. I felt removed and insulated from life. 

And just like when I was a kid, the need for air would overcome me, and with my lungs bursting, I would be forced, gasping and scrambling back to the surface.  I realize now that grief had clung to my skin, my cells and my heart, and swimming in the ocean allowed the water which had blanked, and for a while sustained me, began to recede. 

When I emerged this time, I found I no longer wished for the fickle darkness of the enigmatic ocean. I decided instead, to let the wind and brilliant sunlight soothe my soul and heal my grief laden spirit. It allowed me to release myself from the riptide of grief that had consumed me.

So with renewed vigor, I am swimming back to shore and to life with renewed energy. That’s the magic of the ocean. Despite its beauty, it can be treacherous and desolate. But if I relax, surrender and float, it’s like a beacon that always leads me home.

The shore…

Struggling to the Surface!

Grief and loss are emotions I would prefer to experience from afar. For now, it hasn’t worked that way. Sorrow has seeped into my cells and attacked my gratitude, joy, light, love, and peace. I find myself struggling to find that place inside me where optimism and hope have always lived. My friend, Pam, recently reminded me that with all my internal struggles and trying to process it all silently, instead she thought I needed to “write it down and put it on the page.”  So Pam, this post is dedicated to you for your faith in me that I have words to say while my spirit broods caustically. You reminded me that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I share it. Maybe just maybe sharing it will release me from the depths of sadness and pain. Here goes.

Losing my aunt, losing period, sucks. I’m not a dark soul so being immersed in pain and shadows disturbs me. I have found in this darkness a resting place for everything I Fear most. In the murkiness and depths of sorrow, I discovered there was a place for me. A place I have chosen to visit but fear I may have stayed far longer than I had anticipated. It’s tentacles which once comforted me in my grief, have now reached out to entangle me in its web. Like swimming underwater, sounds are muted, light is dull, sunshine is hard to find and my breath escapes in small bursts. I have tarried here too long, way too long. It’s time to swim to the surface and let the warmth of the sun remind me of all that I am grateful for and all the good things and wonderful people that have loved and supported me now and always.

I’m sure that most people would be surprised to read this as I do an amazing job of putting on a good face. Underneath it all, I can’t help but remember what I’ve lost. Loss, lost, gone, buried!! These  words reverberate in my head. Why can’t I see all that I have gained instead? When does the hurt subside?

I lost a person who truly saw me, warts and all. A person who helped me laugh at myself and to share who I am without the walls and bravado that steadied me through chaos. A person who I took for weekly, monthly, year after year, (30 or so years), of car rides to nowhere, while I worked out the person I wanted to be and not to be. We would call each other and all we had to say is, “you wanna go for a ride?” I would pick her up and we would ride for hours. No destination, no particular plan, except of course, therapy. Perhaps it was sitting side by side that allowed me to bare my soul. Perhaps because she was a therapist who know how to get under my defenses and let me know failure was a part of my learning curve, not to be deemed a weakness. Perhaps it was because she would laugh with her whole body and the world would right itself for a while. Or perhaps because she loved me and was proud of me and told me so often. She loved with her whole being and believe me, if she loved you, you knew it. Perhaps because she loved me unconditionally and I treasured that and miss it more than words could ever convey.

These are gifts I hope I repaid while she was here on earth. I know she knew how much she meant to me and that she gave me permission to share my love, worries, and hopes with her without judgement. She never judged me. She cajoled, reasoned, and occasionally would yell at me to get it together, and always with a hint of humor and grit.

A month or so after her death, I found a voicemail from her singing me happy birthday. God how I treasure that message. I pray someday I can listen to it without weeping and feeling sorry for myself. I know she’s in good hands now and her body is healed again and strong. I know that she is telling jokes in heaven and caring for all the underdogs who need a champion. I know because she was my champion.

So while I kick my way to the surface, I hear her cheering me on. I am reminded that while loss is a part of me now, so is gratitude, for I had one of the best friends anyone could ever wish for. I know she lives on in me and remains one of the brightest parts of my soul. I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is telling me to get it together and to focus on all the wonderful things we did together and that someday we will ride together again. Godspeed Maureen. I love you to the moon and back again.