When Grief comes,
Take her in your arms and dance with her.
Fall into her.
Move and sway in time with her.
Hold her carefully.
Then, when the music is over,
Look her in the eyes and thank her for the dance.
Maybe the words are too kitschy. Maybe this image of Grief is overly sentimental and idealistic. I concede, that as lovely as the words look on the page, a part of me is choking as I read what I wrote. A piece of me wants to gag because I feel like I'm asking you to accept Grief, when I haven't done this myself. The truth is, I don't really like Grief. So, in my writing, I don't want to imply that I have a smooth, functional relationship with Grief, because I don't.
My connection with Grief is somewhat dysfunctional. I certainly don't want to "hold her carefully". Honestly, some days I want to march her cold hearted ass out the front door and slam it behind her. However, at the heart of it, everything I wrote is the truth - as I know it. I can't edit any of my words because there is nothing I know about grieving that is more pure and unadulterated.
I am certain that if I am going to survive this mess, I can not resist Grief. I must fall into her. And, I must hold her carefully - whether I like it or not. I have to believe that Grief is not my enemy. I can't hate her. And, I have to learn to exist with Grief because she isn't going anywhere. Grief has unpacked and she's here to stay.
This said, Grief is not my first choice for a dance partner. Grief is not overly warm, affectionate or accommodating. Rather, she is relentless and demanding, albeit honest. Grief is a straight shooter. As I dance with her, she confidently leans in and whispers her truths, and I appreciate this. I've always liked honest and forthright people; and, Grief, like these folk, is candid. I respect that.
Still, when Grief shows up, I always secretly hope that my dance card is full. Dancing with Grief is awkward because I don't know the steps. She always leads and sometimes Grief takes me places I don't want to go... However, over the last fourteen and a half months, I've learned...
I’d love to think about nothing.
There’s a theory that men can compartmentalize their thoughts and there’s one compartment specifically for nothing. Either that’s a myth or the universe has played a very cruel trick on me.
I long to turn my mind off. To sleep is struggle. It was, even before she left me. Now? Near impossible.
My mind is a stubborn one, however.
The best of me is often found in those moments of thinking. Those moments in isolation. When the rest of the world is sleeping and my thoughts are finally heard with resounding clarity.
Perhaps that’s why my mind refuses to turn off. Perhaps it longs to tell me something in as much as I long to ignore it.
We are constantly adapting to our ever-changing situations. My life is a stark contrast to what it was only six months ago.
It was similar to how it was six months after Linzi died.
Somehow, I adapted. I was forced to.
We all did.
...and we all continue to do so.
I have been back home in Hawaii for a couple of weeks now after spending the holidays back East with my family, and my world has shifted on its axis. We are moved into the new place completely now. After nearly 17 years in that house, I do not live there anymore.
I’ve spent many long, grueling hours the past couple weeks moving furniture, making trips to the dump, clearing out the old place and organizing in the new. Last year I did a major clear-out and garage sale and got rid of what felt like 80% of my stuff and STILL there is SO MUCH STUFF. How does that happen??
First world problems I guess. I’ve been very selective about what I bring to the new place, but even so, one day with a moving truck was not enough. I’ve done countless carloads too. It has seemed never-ending, and yet as I write this, I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
My dearest, my most beloved husband,
Chuck. Sarge. D. My heart, my heartbeat, the oxygen in my blood, my very breath…
You were many names to me over the years. You were many things to me, as I was to you. You were everything to me, as I was to you.
Life was daily living for us both, of course. We had our jobs, our individual friends and interests, and we had our friends in common and interests in common.
But beyond and above and alongside of, and with, we had each other.
You were my life.
What now is my life without you? Without my breath? Without my heartbeat?
That madness of the souls that is Love. That Love we shared that was a single soul inhabiting two bodies…
What to do with all of that now that you’re dead and we are forever separated?
Up until about age 30 or so, I was a fairly social creature. I made friends easily, whether it be through work, spending weekends in the woods with groups, or wrenching on cars. Through my twenties, not only did Megan and I make “couples” friends, but I had my own as well. Friends that Megan appreciated herself, but really, they were people that I hung around with.
Most of these friends were around our age and roughly the same stage in life. When Shelby was born, it wasn’t long before our closest friends were having their own children. All seemed in order in the world. Both of our thirtieth birthdays were spent with largely the same people at a local winery, having some drinks, laughing, talking about our children, cars, donkeys (long story), illness, and whatever other mundane subject we all shared interest in.
We would all attend football games together. Or go to the movies, festivals, car shows, or just “hang out”. Even when Megan would be admitted to the hospital, she had frequent visits from our friends. I would go fishing or hiking with my “buddies” whenever I had the chance, and Megan would do much the same with hers (well, not fishing or hiking, but you get the idea)
Seven years later, and that part of my life seems foreign to me.Read more
I feel like each breathe I take puts more distance between us. You are in another place. A place I don't know. A dimension I can't fully understand because I am still here. You exist somewhere far from me; yet, somehow you are right here beside me. You are everywhere; and, also nowhere to be found. My Soul loves you, forever, for Eternity. And, now I love you in separation.
Photo credits: celestialworld.co.uk
My eyes can not see you,
But, my heart loves you.
Our Souls remain coupled forever,
You are gone physically,
But, we are connected by the heart.
And, I miss you.
I miss you.
I miss you.
We are not content loving in separation because we want back what we had. But, that isn't an option. Loving in separation is the only thing we have now. And, it is not some big new concept. Loving while separated is something we have done countless times before, when they were alive. And, now, we, the bereaved, continue to love our person despite their permanent absence.
At times, Mike and I were physically apart because of work; and during these separations he'd always tell me "Honey, it could be worse, I could be at war and gone for a really long time." He was right. Throughout history, people have loved each other through long periods of separation. Obviously, we have the innate ability to continue to love one another while we are physically apart. And, this is done without any special training. As a human being, we can instinctively love what we can not see in front of us. Our love doesn't fade when someone leaves the room; and, therefore, our love doesn't disappear in our current circumstance.
"We don't stop loving one another when we part. We know a great deal about how to love in separation, how to hold one another in our hearts when we are apart - thinking of, speaking about, remembering, sharing interests, being grateful to one another, drawing inspiration from one another..." (Thomas Attig)
I acknowledge that this time, we are separated from them for the rest of our lives... And, yes, this is so, so different than being temporarily detached. Death makes this physical separation permanent. This is f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I get it. And, yes, I know that loving in separation does not fill the physical void, nothing can...
But, what else is there?
The task of loving Mike for the rest of my life without his "presence" is daunting, and it saddens me,
But, I have to give it a try.
I don't know what else to do with all the love in my heart...
So, now that he is physically gone,
I am continuing our relationship, on a purely Soul level.
Let me tell you about the best way I know how to do this...
While we were down in my hometown last week for a wedding, we managed to get out for a few hours one morning to make the drive out to Rockport. If you’ll recall, this little coastal town got the brunt of hurricane Harvey last year. I will never forget sitting in bed at 2am, watching the TV in horror from 1400 miles away as one of my favorite little beach towns was swallowed alive. And all the pictures and videos that came in the days following as they began to assess the damage of a place I hold so dear.
I both wanted and didn’t want to visit Rockport… but I knew I needed to. As we drove the long, straight stretch of single highway out there and hopped the ferry across the channel, I grew emotional at what we might see. As we started to get in to town, my stomach turned in a way I’ve rarely ever felt. Nearly every other house was missing a roof or a wall. The little ice cream shop where Drew and I stopped on our first trip to the beach together was gone. Every one of the big beach shops was empty - nothing but a skeleton of gaping broken floor-to-ceiling windows… all the merchandise and shelving now stripped clean. Boats were still lying in piles on top of one another all about, and mounds of old furniture and refrigerators and twisted up metal roofing and splintered, rotting wood lie at almost every corner.Read more
When you are busy living and surviving and struggling inside your own life, it is often hard or damn near impossible to be able to recognize your own progress, shifts, and changes. Time goes by and you may feel stuck in place, or like things are moving in slow motion or not at all, when the reality may be quite different. Living life and grieving all at once, every day, for long periods of time - it can often feel like nothing is happening.
It's sort of like if you have 100 pounds to lose, and you lose an average of 3 pounds per month. 3 pounds per month is a very healthy way to lose weight, and it will probably stay off if you do it that way. But, when you are inside of that and doing all the work, and you look at your own body or reflection in the mirror, you might not notice any difference. You might look at yourself, get frustrated, and say: "What is the point of all this?"
Change happens in pieces, and in very tiny fragments. You know that term "overnight success?" Yeah. Not really. Most of those people have been working their asses off for years. This night just happened to be the night where they clicked on the right thing, in the right moment. The night when all their back-breaking work, finally began to pay off. Becoming who you were meant to be, isnt always glamorous or obvious or quick-paced. But it sure is something to be proud of.
In true Chicken Little fashion, this week in Hawaii, where I live, there was a scary but supposedly false ballistic missile threat that woke people up or terrified them at the store and farmer’s markets. It has since made international news, to great disgrace to whoever was responsible.
Around 8 AM, after having worked the night before and exhausted, my phone on silent, a very annoying and scary emergency buzzing sound erupted from my phone next to my bed. I slowly rolled over, pulled on my glasses and checked the message. Ballistic missile incoming to Hawaii. Take shelter. This is not a test.Read more
I read recently that someone I know through someone else, got back her biopsy results.
The tests came back positive.
Side note: isn’t it funny that we call tests positive when they tell us we have cancer? Shouldn’t it be exactly the opposite? Negative! Your tests are negative! You have cancer!
Especially since our culture is so gung ho on being positive.
It seems backwards.
The groundswell of support for her was immediate, which was wonderful and heartwarming for her, of course. We need our community at such a time.
But, scrolling through the comments, I came upon the tired crap that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.Read more