Echoes in my Heart

Some moments can be so complex it just floors me. Tonight Mike and I were grilling out in the back yard and taking turns playing ball with his daughter Shelby. We had good music going and a beautiful warm sunny sky. At one point I went in the kitchen to clean up some things and they followed me inside. Mike started dancing with me to a sweet song that came on, and Shelby followed soon after. Before long, we’re all three dancing around in the kitchen together like dorks. Shelby is laughing like crazy and it’s positively a moment from a movie. One of those moments you remember forever, and as soon as it happens, somehow you know you’ll always remember that random silly moment.

The next minute I can feel the underlying emotions stirring. Before long, I’m escaping upstairs with the convenient excuse that I need to write my post for tomorrow. Which was true, but I also needed a moment to myself and I didn’t even understand why.

So I’ve been upstairs a few moments now, had a little cry and collected myself enough. I can hear them still outside playing ball and laughing. Why aren’t I laughing anymore? What even just happened? I’m at a loss for the reason enough that I don’t really want to bother Mike with it when they’re having such fun. It’s more a thing I need to be quiet with a moment to understand.

All I can surmise is that there must have been some small eruption of grief… some crack inside my heart that broke open a little more. It feels like echoes coming back at me - reverberating down the halls of my heart from a past life filled with joy that was lost. As I feel through it, I’m certain, that’s what it is. One of those moments of pure joy that remind me so completely of another lifetime where I felt that same kind of joy. It’s the fear inside my bones when I feel that way now - because there are still pieces of me that equate that kind of joy with sudden and immediate trauma. Still, after all this time, it’s rare that the melancholy ever leaves me entirely. It’s rare that I can be as silly and free as the person I used to be (at least without the help of alcohol).

Suddenly, as we danced around the kitchen, I caught myself in one of those moments. Free, joyful, connected and almost overwhelmed with how perfect it was. No sooner had the moment passed than my mind began lining up past emotions to make it’s case. Thoughts like “Joy is here, the other shoe can’t be far from dropping now…” and “You remember another time you had this kind of joy… don’t get too comfortable with it.” They aren’t even actual thoughts I have. They are so deeply entrenched in me now that they are just this ever-so-silent whispers of my subconscious. They are more like tremors in the core of me. Every joyful moment and day seems to have the capacity to cause them. Not every happy moment does. Sometimes now I can go about having entire joyful moments and days without it getting to me. But then there are those really picture perfect ones, and we happen to have had a bunch of those today. So many that I think the fear of loss has been lurking in the background all damn day, waiting for just the right moment to pounce on me.

It isn’t the end of the world. I’m not balling uncontrollably or anything. Just… sad. And because of the sadness, less connected. And wishing I could be happy instead - like the other two people who are downstairs just soaking up the moment. I guess this is just what happens now. Once you’ve been through enough, sometimes even the taste of something beautiful reminds you that it won’t last forever. I’ve had that knowing since I was ten. The kind that instantly time-warps into some future pain of losing all of it all over again.

Before Drew died, even after having lost both my parents, I didn’t worry much about losing him. I honestly thought I was safe from all that. “What are the odds I would lose both parents AND my partner?” I used to say so often. Who would have thought?Now that those odds have proved pretty good, I suppose I’m much more aware that I am not immune to more loss just because I’ve already had a lot. I’m even more aware how unfair life is now, and that none of us are owed a "fair" deal. And even though I am already one of the ones anyone would deem as life having been unfair to, I know for certain it likely has some more unfairness up its sleeve for me. 

As I say almost every day still, I just really hope this person is healthy and alive for a long long time. Please, just give me that. I wish I could know that. I wish it weren’t all such a huge fucking risk… such a black hole of mystery. Then again, even if we did know when we would lose people, I don’t guess that would make things a whole lot better either.


Showing 6 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Steven Jenkins
    commented 2017-06-14 02:56:21 -0700
    Everybody has faced many difficulties in the life. But we should forget the past and live in the present. Then only you can achieve your goals. I have read so many motivational stories like this at and I get motivated by myself.
  • Cathy
    commented 2017-05-24 05:55:04 -0700
    Sadness and joy, life and death, day and night….they go hand in hand, and we automatically think of the opposite. You know more than others how instantly life can change. I too have had so much of the sadness with multiple losses that when a joyful moment happens, I wait for the other shoe to drop. Hard not to focus on what might happen, and stay in the moment. All I can say is it’s a part of this crazy life we live, and many ups and downs will continue all thru your time here. Embrace the good times, be aware that challenges will come, and keep on living. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing here.
  • Anonymous
    commented 2017-05-23 08:03:00 -0700
    Marilyn: I agree, many people don’t understand grief and they find it uncomfortable to deal with, even in a movie. It’s not exactly an uplifting subject. I have to admit that I did not fully understand what it feels like to lose a spouse until I became a widow; it’s so very difficult to describe that I think most people don’t fully get it until they experience it. What I especially liked about the movie, besides the fabulous acting and an interesting glimpse into one person’s (fictional) grief experience, is the message about finding collateral beauty from loss. I love the phrase “collateral beauty”. It captures the concept perfectly. Sarah and Mike and Shelby would not have come together, or had memorable moments like dancing in the kitchen, if not for the loss of Drew and Megan. And once we’ve experienced loss I think we more fully realize how important these moments are and we recognize when they happen, so it’s easier to feel emotional about them. The concept of collateral beauty also includes the kinds of things that Kelley spoke about, like the founding of Soaring Spirits, etc. It’s also about shifting focus from “victim” to “survivor” and appreciating the positive experiences that would not have happened but for the loss. The takeaway message from the movie reminds me of a quote by Dean Koontz that I find helpful: “…the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”
  • Marilyn Peterlin
    commented 2017-05-22 06:14:27 -0700
    Anonymous: I rented Collateral Beauty thanks to your comment. How very right you are. So like grief. Not surprisingly, the movie was rated super low by Rotten Tomatoes. Just more proof of how our society doesn’t get grief, right? Too uncomfortable to deal with. Time-Life-Death.
  • Anonymous
    commented 2017-05-21 19:04:05 -0700
    Sounds like you experienced some collateral beauty. “Collateral Beauty” is one of the best movies I’ve seen about grief.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2017-05-21 08:06:20 -0700
    Oh man, I SO get this. And I do the same thing. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, especially with real joy and moments of bliss. I try to remain inside the joy, but sometimes it just turns to immediate sadness out of nowhere. I really do think its because you have had so much loss, but I also think its a ’sudden loss" thing. There is literally almost NO moment where Im not acutely aware that every single thing can be snatched away from me, with no warning or reason. And thats a weird way to live, having that knowledge. Its scary sometimes.