It’s Tuesday & my heart is heavy. Some days I have a sense that the weight of the world is perched upon my chest and I cannot breathe. Today, it just feels as though I am dragging a bag of bricks beside me. I feel forlorn & the little flutter of wings inside me that usually carries me toward each new day seems to be on conservation mode. I have read that grief is not loss but the process of accepting loss. I feel this process in its entirety today~ no hiding, no distractions, just the presence of my awareness of the enormity of this loss. I see it in my eyes when I look in the mirror, I see it when others see me. The depth and breadth of it informing my thoughts & movements. A relentless ache & loneliness for only one, my only, my truest true.
For 4 months now, I have heard over & over again that I am ‘so brave, so courageous’. There have been many other words shared with me in solidarity, kindness & in grief that have truly touched my heart. But it is these two words that, to be honest, totally perplex me. I’m not sure what they mean so sometimes I ask and they say “for surviving”.
I get it…
But, I don’t feel brave or courageous at all.
Survival is a relative term. In the beginning, the wisdom of my body enabled me to survive on auto pilot & grace. It is truly a marvelous machine, the body. Shock is all about self-preservation and at another time in my life, I would likely be utterly fascinated and in the words of my dear friend Sarah Ross, “make a federal case about it” by studying it and spouting off facts.
Once the shock began to wear off I was utterly fascinated that I was surviving.
- What keeps us going?
- What is the substance or mechanism of survival?
- What is the reason my spirit would choose to fight so hard to keep me tethered earthside?
- And, conversely, what happened to my boy that eroded his will to live?
Currently, surviving means that I am able to function beyond basic life processes. But how far beyond? I made granola and shoveled the driveway and showered and changed clothes after 4 days of mostly wearing the same thing. This past weekend, I made it out socially twice and it was pleasant. Since returning from my trip I have come to understand that being on vacation where it’s expected you will laize about is quite different from coming home & accomplishing very little, yet finding that surviving each day feels like hard & important work. I am surviving, yes, but I am not thriving. I think courage and bravery belong to those who are.
If there is anything at all I can take “pride” in it would be feeling the importance of not holding Isaac back from his current journey. In esoteric and Anthroposophic texts, it is deeply encouraged to release the “material” attachment to those-no-longer-present, as it causes them spiritual pain. The living can actually help guide the newly passed to find their liberation by holding them in the light. And so, in humble devotion to my beautiful boy, I have been “working” hard to establish & trust in my “new” relationship with him and to not hold him back. It isn’t difficult– in fact sometimes I think I must be doing it wrong or I’m batshit crazy or something, because it feels, it has felt, quite effortless to see him, to feel him, to know him in this new way, from day one, and to continue to prioritize whatever he may need, though much more difficult, by trying to let go, trying not to hold him back. That might be too much here, and I get it. So, I won’t elaborate. But I will say, whichever adjectives you attach to my survival, brave or woo woo or whatever, I’m doing the best that I can to do the next best thing, one day, one hour, one breath at a time. And the irony is not lost on me; I was an overprotective, hovering, helicopter mama all of his life, and now I am all about his freedom. I know he must be getting a kick out of that….
I am in my own strange new land, my own new journey. I loved being a mom and making a home and being a pillar of my little family tripod. I made grocery lists and prepared meals and kept our home and worked hard so Isaac had what he needed and even some things he wanted. Now this all feel strange to me~ now I wonder what does a 38-year-old childless, married woman do? What do I do? What matters to me? I have never once questioned my purpose as an adult. I never had to; my purpose was fulfilled the moment Isaac was born.
So now what?
I’m not working yet. This has been a tremendous gift and necessity. Even still, 4 months already and I don’t have a clue how to begin again, how to live again, how to show up fully again… Dear, sweet Joshua says I never have to work again. This is such a blessing. But I know that my spirit will expect more from me. We’ll get by~ but I’m not sure if it’s fair. So maybe I will write a book. Maybe I will sell my art. Maybe I will re-start my massage & health counseling practice. But for now, I’m just trying to survive with as much gratitude, grace and humility as I can. I’m trying to keep in mind that many are suffering. I’m trying to believe there is still life left for me and furthermore, that I am needed, that I have another purpose to fulfill, so that maybe someday I will feel brave & courageous….
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now.” –Veronica Roth