Rushing Toward the Light

These past few weeks, I have been in a rush toward healing. I have tried to dwell in the blessed memory of my husband, and to rejoice in his character. I have tried to begin to rebuild my life in a way that would honour his spirit. I have tried to reach, to grow, and to soften, as I know he would have wanted. 
I am doing all the right things. I am eating fairly healthy foods, and I am writing, reading, and reaching out to others. I begin most mornings with yoga and meditation. I walk outside, sometimes miles, on the weekends. I am immersed in my Buddhist sangha. I even started a Zumba class on Fridays.
emerald_city_3.jpgI have set aside the depths of my grief to put one foot in front of the other. 
Meanwhile, sorrow lurks in the shadows. 
It waits for me to meet it with my presence.
It's going nowhere until I do this. 
All these healthy habits will not make this pain disappear. 

This week,  I returned to counselling after avoiding it over the holidays. "I don't need these sessions," I told myself, on my way to the appointment. "I am fine. I am coping. I have returned to work."

Then the counsellor made the mistake of asking me how things had been, for me, and the floodgates opened. I haven't shared the depths of my sadness with someone, at length, for a long time. For the first time in months, I was able to look another human in the eye, and have her be a witness to my pain, to help me hold it. I am so tired of holding it all, on my own. 

I share my sadness, but only in snippets, with friends. I tell them that some days are better than others, that this is still a difficult, exhausting, heartbreaking, roller coaster ride and that I don't know when it will ever settle. 

But it has been over seven months, now, and I worry that most people don't want to sit in the nitty gritty of this darkness, with me. I have had my share of attention, I think, and I don't want them to grow weary of my presence.
Instead, I let my writing speak for me. I write my weekly post on Widow's Voice. Perhaps that is why I am so anxious to find that people are responding to what I post, on this blog. Because I crave a human witness to this pain of mine. Because I want to share it and be heard.

But I am too afraid to do it in person. I'm afraid my friends will avert their eyes when they see me, if I share too much, that they will feel burdened by the depth of my grief, and turn away.

So I smile and say I'm well, considering the circumstances--and walk on, before they do.
This fear has nothing to do with the people around me. I am certain there are those who would be happy to sit with me awhile, and let me speak, if only I would ask. But I don't. I try to contain it, myself. And it is too big for one person to hold. 

It is customary, in our Western culture, to rush toward wholeness. We want to show the world that we are strong. We want to be an inspiration to others. We want to rise above, dwell in possibility, climb over obstacles in our paths, get well, move on, be happy, thrive. 

But grief does not work that way. There is no linear path for us to follow. The steps in grief do not uniformly lead upward to a sunny, radiant realm. Grief has us laughing one moment and crying the next. It sends us from the heights of hope to the depths of despair in an instant. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It is baffling and powerful. And there is no way to know when we will come up for air. 

We can pretend that we are better. We can smile and stretch and say all the right things. But our sorrow still lurks in the shadows. 

This week, I decided to sit inside my grief, instead of brushing past it with a backward glance. It felt important to allow it to arise, in me, and to speak to the voice that tells me I should feel better, look to the future, be grateful for what I have, move up, move on, get over it, already. 

I wrote this piece below in answer to that voice. 
*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

 

It is easy to sit on the sidelines of loss and to assume things--that there is dignity in this grief; that one can bear the scars of one's sorrow with elegance and grace, and thereby become an inspiration and an amusing companion for others. That one can rise beyond her pain, embracing the inevitable fact of death.

But today I find no dignity in grief--no elegance, no grace. There are no twinkling angel spirits around me, no chiming bells, no aromatic swirls of misty promise to accompany this loss. There are no rhythmic chants that can soften this sorrow.

There is only me, sitting here, streaming words onto a page. There is only me, eyes darkened with the shadow of his death, forehead twisted into furrows, arm muscles taut and aching for his body to embrace.

There is no light in this grey room, on this grey day, only the soft flame of fire, curling around a piece of wood, in the stove, as it slowly cools into white, dead ash--like his body, that rests inside its cardboard tube upon my dresser. Gone too soon. Finished. Snuffed out.

There is only me, back curved with the weight of this sadness, legs buckled at the knees, crawling up the stairs to step into that dark night, to our bed, without him.

There is no dignity in this death. I will not stand tall, this night, to shape a life as beautiful as the one I had with him. I will surrender to the ugliness of my sorrow.  I will sit with the darkness, and honour it. 

I will not rush ahead toward the light. 

 


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