Archives for category: grief

I’m sipping my coffee. My face is wet with the tears that just keep coming. The phone call this morning was brief. Heartfelt. Tender. My sister’s resolve and her will to hold her feelings in check impress me, even as I continue to weep. We kept the call brief; no doubt she has other calls she wants to make. Neither of us like crying “out loud” in a public way, and seeing as we’re so “strong”, we manage not to cry on the phone. Much. The call ends, the tears start.

I consider not writing, but… grief isn’t an everyday experience. I already feel… shattered. This, in spite of knowing it was imminent, in spite of being “well-prepared”, in spite of speaking gently and explicitly with my Mother, herself, about this moment, frankly, compassionately, honestly… in spite of spending yesterday well-supported by a loving and concerned partner… nonetheless; I am crying. Routines are something I can fall back on to hold life together, until… something.

“This, too, shall pass.” (I know, I know – I fucking know that, now knock that shit off, while I shed these honest tears for the passing of a complex woman, who gave me life. I’ll be okay, just not… right now, exactly.)

…Anyway. No idea how this amount of grief may affect my writing. I’m glad you are here. I hope you are well. Maybe I write a lot more than usual over the next several days? Maybe I find myself unable to lift my hands to type words in row at all. I don’t even know. I guess we’ll find out together, eh?

It’ll be okay. I reflexively offer myself all the comforting platitudes I can find. “We are mortal creatures.” (That’s a very real observation, at the moment. Painfully real. It offers no particular comfort. Perhaps it will later…?) It’s not really helpful, and I let it go.

…I don’t really know what else to do. So… I begin again.

The text this morning was to the point, although not as abrupt as I imply in the title of this post. I feel grateful that my sister is right there, with our Mother. For a moment, I imagine this stern, strong, witty woman who raised me, pushing her chair back from a crowded card table, folding a less than ideal hand, and heading into the kitchen to refresh drinks. That memory is of a lifetime ago, in a far away place, disconnected from my experience of “here” and “now”. Do I want her to “hear my voice”? “Non-responsive” doesn’t sound like she’s likely to register voices… we’ve spoken recently, and regularly – is it enough?

…We don’t have a “Book of the Dead”, in our culture… It’s a strange random thought, a forerunner to intense grief.

There are tears in my eyes. I resent them; it’s too soon. Life stretches ahead of me, while I reach my thoughts – and my heart – across great distance. Imagining her as I remember her best; in her late 30s, in her early 40s. Strong. Determined. No bullshit. Rapier wit. Iron will. I observe the characteristics in myself that I most likely got from her; my tenacious loyalty. My intellect. My commitment to being a good provider. My reluctance to walk away from a bad decision. My willingness to hide my emotions for far too long. My laugh. That same laugh that her Mother had, too. I hear Granny’s laugh in my recollection. I feel, for a moment, my Mother’s warmth – like summertime in my heart. I sip my coffee and celebrate this woman who made me.

…Grieving comes soon enough. It’s important to examine those cherished moments as treasures, with great delight, and excessive merriment, and not allow the tears to wash those away. They matter so much more than the tears ever could.

Life didn’t have a map – you did okay with that, Mom. No reason to expect death to be more difficult to master; in a sense, we prepare for it all our lives, don’t we? Striving, clinging – and learning to let go. Good fold, Mom. Safe travels.

You are part of me. My journey began with you.

I sit quietly with my coffee, remembering life with my Mom. My “origin story”. Some details are fuzzy, others crystal clear. Some moments remain painful to this day, others bring me immediate joy when I recall them. One thing is certain; she will not be forgotten. Tears later. Coffee now. I wish she were sitting here, sharing that with me, right now; I have so much to ask, and now there is no time…Β 

β€œLife should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ~Hunter S. Thompson

…And all the new beginnings that that implies…and perhaps a few more.

I put quite a bit of time, enthusiastic daydreaming, and research, into the trip I planned to take this past weekend. I never did the one thing necessary to bring it to life; I did not begin the journey. I just thought about it. LOL There’s a lesson in there. An allegory. A metaphor. A parable, perhaps. The weekend did not lack of significant XP, however; it was an adventure, a brief journey, and an interesting progression of emotions and events, nonetheless. πŸ™‚

I needed wide open space, and big sky – and found it close to home. There’s a lesson, here, too.

My birthday has been well-celebrated. A new year of life has been kick-started, decisively. There has been feasting, entertainment, the company of friends, and so much love! Errands were run. Housekeeping got done. The garden was cared for. A humble adventure has commenced.

My first orchid. A wee adventure with which to start the year.

It’s been a fast, relaxed, and delightful handful of days, in spite of news of my Mother’s decline. There will be time to process that in full, and there is no need to rush, or to force it down into a dark quiet corner of my heart. It is what it is; we are mortal creatures, and of all the things that will inevitably pass, our brief mortal lives are one of the most challenging to let go of… and then that greater challenging of letting go of those we love. No user’s guide for this one, either. I sometimes feel I am fumbling around in the dark with my emotions. I know that my emotions haven’t killed me yet. πŸ™‚ I’ll get through this, too.

I think about the beautiful broad expanse of meadow, and the scent of wildflowers on the breeze.

I smile, letting the details of the weekend unfold in my recollection. What a lovely time to share with my Traveling Partner.

Life’s pleasures don’t have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Life’s beauty doesn’t have to be costly to be lovely.

I sip my coffee. It’s Monday. I shift gears to “now” and remind myself of the path ahead. The year will continue to unfold. What will July hold? What of September? And the holiday season with my Traveling Partner right here at home? What of the future? And the unanswered questions in life?

Where does this path lead?

It’s time to find out. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

56 today. Feels a lot like 55, yesterday. lol I’m okay with that, too, and chose a lot of what it has taken to be here, now. I sip my coffee looking back on the year with considerable contentment. It was a year well-lived, and greatly enjoyed – even if the first half was largely spent “being there” for my Traveling Partner, as he extricated himself from a sticky, damaging, abusive relationship (and doing so at some expense). I lived my life, and my values, and that matters, so much.

The garden is lovely. My coffee tastes good – the sort of great cup of coffee that leaves a thirst for more, once it is down to the last sip. I’m home, enjoying the day, in the middle of the work week, celebrating life, and love, and self. I feel rested. The forecast is for another very hot day (above 90 F). I’ll finish here, and take my coffee out onto the deck, water the garden, and meditate.

The pointless loveliness of a flower is, for me, rich with meaning.

This all feels so… comfortably ordinary. This isn’t a feeling that I’ve spent a lifetime with; it’s new. Well, relatively new. New enough for me to be acutely aware I have not always “lived here” in this way. The takeaway, this morning, is that healing is frankly very possible – for a lot of us, many of us, most of us (perhaps), and that’s incredibly powerful. It requires a lot of self-work, a will to be wholly frank with oneself, open, able to reassess implicit assumptions and biases, skilled at recognizing those internals attacks that hold us back, and tear open old wounds unexpectedly. It sounds like so much to have to take on, and it feels… impossible. Overwhelming. Isolating. Depressing. Devastatingly permanent. At least, at first. Is it weird that getting from hell to my garden has been a journey that begins (again and again) with a breath, and ends on a meditation cushion (again and again), feeling content, and whole? If it ever really ends. I could call yesterday an ending…

…But isn’t this morning a new beginning? Am I not here, beginning again? (I assure you, I am, at least for now, in this mortal life.) It’s been a journey. I’ve had help along the way – and I’ve needed it, and often felt unable to ask for it. Being able to accept it when offered, was an excellent place to start. I pause for gratitude. I think of my Granny. I think of friends. I think of my therapist. I think of my Traveling Partner. I haven’t made this journey alone, except in that limited way in which is happens to be mine.

Dinner with friends last night was celebratory and beautiful. It pushed aside, however briefly, the news I’d gotten moments earlier that my Mother is ill… like… end of life ill. Rejecting care, ill. Wrapping things up, ill. My heart, for the moment, is surprisingly light; she has been, in my life, a source of intellectual inspiration, and I find that I am not able to disrespect her thinking on this important choice in life. I feel the hint of the pain to come, like taking a sickening blow the back of the head – I know the pain is coming, but it isn’t here, yet. I’m okay, right now. We are mortal creatures; even life is something we must let go, sooner or later. I’ll call her later. I’ll find words to say.

Beginnings and endings. Mortality. Choices. One pure moment of real contentment, a spot to stand in life’s chaotic stream that feels calm, for just a moment, one deep breath in, released as a sigh – contentment saved my life. I found I could build and sustain it, and that in doing so, happiness could find me, and I could stop chasing it. It’s not permanent. None of this is.

I’ll always remember my Mother’s age; she’s twenty years older than I am, and the dates are rather close. Easy. I suspect I won’t find it so easy to remember when she passes… 56? 57? 58? When it comes, it is likely to hit a year that seems insignificant in so many other ways… (and let’s be real; most of the details of our individual lives are fairly insignificant) I guess that seems reasonable. Isn’t her life of more value to me, even in its end, that her death ever could be?

Beginnings and endings. Birthdays. We live. We celebrate. We die. “This too shall pass…” Even life. Make it worthy through your choices. Take care of the fragile vessel in which you reside. Love with your whole heart – and yes, include yourself. Be present. These are all choices within your reach… if your baggage is in the way, just shove that shit to the side – and begin again. ❀

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” (a damned lie from childhood; some of that shit stings for a lifetime)

“That’s just semantics.” (A corporate management professional who should know better)

“I didn’t mean it that way!” (Nearly everyone, at some point)

Words and meaning – they do matter, don’t they? It’s how we get our point across (short of frustrated sobbing, or shouting, at which point no one hears the meaning over the volume of emotion).

“Use your words.” (A thing generally said parent to child, and potentially far more useful that a lot of other advice about words one could hear)

The point here is clear; gentle honesty, authentic civility, being “real” without willful offense, being truthful – and also accurate – seem wise and purposeful, constructive, ways to use language, on the “word delivery” side of things. I’m not saying people seem intent on wise use of their words, I’m just calling out the potential. We’re human primates; it is not unusual to see the worst of our nature. (I make this observation on an Easter Sunday, after reading new reports of police shootings in the US, and suicide bombings in Sri Lanka; we’re the scariest and most dangerous of all the primates, no doubt about it. 100% “most likely to destroy their own world.”)

I’m also contemplating the listener’s obligations in the face of some torrent of untruthful or hurtful bullshit, delivered in the form of words (spoken or in print, bullshit is bullshit). Clear, explicit communication is useful stuff; we sometimes allow a personal agenda of some kind (or fearfulness, or baggage) to nudge us away from truth, accuracy, consideration, necessity, kindness, and wisdom. Capable of spewing some heinous vile nonsense, we often also seem rather unprepared to deal with receiving it. What then? What to do when the world piles on, and we suffer the weight and the pain of it, feeling unable to defend ourselves, feeling compelled to try?

I’m not sure I have the best advice on that one; my tendency (and my practice) is to detect drama (or bullshit) and, if possible, walk away from all that. I attempt to avoid having drama-prone, hostile-seeming, or trolling-inclined associates join my social circle in the first place. I attempt to defuse discussions headed toward drama, explicitly, gentle, firmly, and without argument; I’m not interested in loosing the wild dogs of emotion in conversations that are ideally handled less passionately. I’m not interested in being provoked.

The world we live in can be exceedingly provocative, in all the worst ways. I mean, seriously? We’ve built a world in which people feel entitled to make their point by blowing up explosives in crowded places, taking innocent lives by way of gunfire, or using torture. How does any of that not provoke decent people (of all backgrounds and ideologies) into wanting to fight back, to insist on change, to reject the thinking that appears to be at the source of the violence? It’s a strange paradox, though; if we become the fighter, and take to the battlefield, we are immediately at grave risk of becoming that thing we so despise. I don’t have answers this morning… I’m just sipping my coffee, and noticing we have so many better ways to express ourselves, than by way of guns and bombs.

We could each do better. We can all begin again.