Lately I’ve been feeling some sort of an emptiness. After Drew died, for a lot of years, I was doing a lot of creative work around my grief. I was finding visual ways to express this inner world and sharing it with others. There was something about that work that felt so purposeful. It felt like I was doing something important for myself, and indirectly for others a bit too. Mainly, I felt like I was expressing who I was and what I cared about in a really bold way, and it felt right. It felt like I was being myself more fully than I ever had before. Talking about the realities of grief and loss and pain and also courage and creativity and resiliency.
Fast forward now seven years, and I’m finding myself not the person I had hoped I’d be… “by now”. This emptiness almost feels like it comes out of the absence of the really deep pain I was in during those early years. Life has kept on going, and I have kept on living it in many bold and beautiful ways. My life now though is far less governed by my grief and my pain. As the years go on, the pain softens, and somehow I have struggled to know what to do with myself without the agony of fresh grief. I’ve struggled to have a voice without that central idea of pain and loss
I no longer am feeling this deep scream inside myself to express my pain like I once did. My deep passion to share my expressions came so much from that painful place. But I still feel this desire to make something out of pain and struggle in general. Not just from the grief and from his death and life, but from other people’s pain, and from other kinds of pain that we all face in life. Now adays, I’m feeling I’ve let myself get caught up in the daily minutia of paying bills and managing the budget and all the myriad of things we have to do as adults. The sorts of things that we all find ourselves lost in inevitably at some point. Somewhere deeper inside me though, is this desire to talk more about pain. I just don’t know what that looks like yet.
I guess I feel like, after all these years of putting myself back together, that I’d somehow have it MORE back together by now, ya know? That I’d have more sense of direction in my life. That I’d have my career more figured out. That I’d be more...something. I guess, like all of us, I just hoped I’d be somewhere else “By now”. Which logically is quite ridiculous, because I'd honestly done so very much in these 7 years.
I’m sure I am just feeling it more now that I am in my late 30’s. That number screams very loudly as most of us I think. For me, it is around the time that my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer and began her several year battle that took her life. I’ve been dreading approaching this age since I was 9 years old. Could the same thing happen to me? Could I wake up tomorrow, feel something unusual, go to the doctor and find cancer? Furthermore, could I die in a crash tomorrow, like Drew? And if so, what will I have left behind? Have I done enough?
Why the hell do these feelings and thoughts have to be constant and loud sometimes?
I know I will have left behind a lot of beautiful things… artwork and countless words that I have shared about grief and life. Friends and family who have felt more loved because of me being in their lives. I guess, I’m just saying, I want to do more of that. And I don’t want to squander what time I do have worrying about the outcomes of every damn thing. Which is what I feel like I’ve been doing now more than anything… just worrying and being an expert at distracting myself from taking action.
The only good thing to come out of Drew dying is how fearless it made me. How much action I took, on a daily basis. How many new things I tried and new experiences I had and new people I met along the way. Suddenly fear was no longer an excuse in my world… and it felt a little bit like a new lease on life for someone who has always lived in fear. In a weird way, it was like a gift he gave me when he left.
As time moves forward though, my old ways have crept back in. I’ve felt like I’ve lost that perspective of urgency, and in a weird way, I miss it. I miss the fearless person that his death made me for a time. I’d very much like to have her back without having to go through more loss. I’m hoping that it’s possible.