What’s in a name?

imageEarlier this week I was standing in the back yard after rockin out some serious yard work after pickling 10 pounds of asparagus. I was overcome with emotion I did not at first recognize…

Yesterday, the emotion returned after taking a hike through the dune forest with my seestar, Randilyn, weeding the garden with my nephew Jack, and having an epic water balloon fight followed by ice cream, with Josh, Abby, & Jack…

Because I am an explorer of my emotions, I was perplexed that I did not recognize this one. In some way, it felt vaguely familiar, the way that deja vu does. In other ways, it felt new.

I felt the urgency of naming it, as I do– yet I wanted to consider its subtle nuances before declaring with certainty what it may be. I dissected it by the thoughts that were conjured as I experienced it. As a keen observer of myself and others, I take great effort to comprehend the source of experience. I noticed that this feeling came from feeling my body strain with work hard enough to produce sweat beads on my upper lip, and back tension from repetitive motion. Yet, this same feeling arose when I simply sat with the knowing that this gift of time, time to heal and nurture myself and others, plants and animals and the container  of space that is our home, is something I am deeply grateful for. And of course, the laughter that fills a neighborhood when children and grown men are squealing with the rush of cold water blasting them as balloons meet skin, and overlooking the big lake in the silence of a dear companion, each of them produced this feeling.

Weighted against the feelings I have come to accept as normal; sadness, true melancholy, grief and despair– confusion, emptiness, missing someone in the bones of my bones… Living with loss as big as this, feelings are generally akin to a chronic ache. But this new feeling? This feeling was nearly the opposite; dare I say resplendent— and certainly welcome when I can take it all in. This feeling makes me feel other things– curiosity, hope, wonder, gratitude, and yet, until today I could not say for sure what it is.

and then I woke up this morning after a hard and solid sleep, borne of a full days work and sunshine and time with loved ones. Abby and Jackson in my bed. Josh singing in the shower. And it hit me– this feeling does have a name. This feeling is still possible– in fact, is hard fought and perhaps rooted in what can only be understood after tremendous loss and deep despair. They say after loss that life is not eventually returned to normal, that a new normal will enter. Im not so naive to expect this feeling to be more than fleeting moments of grace, but I will allow myself to let it in whenever it comes. I will welcome it into my innermost home like a cherished guest, and I will allow myself to remember I am worthy of its company.  That it is ok to feel HAPPINESS.

the name Isaac means “he who laughs”. And it is quite possibly what I miss the most, what I strove everyday to hear– his joy, his laughter was so beautiful, was literally music to my ears. We loved to make each other laugh. It was our connector– humor, silly, happy. When I thinkbof all the ways I can honor Isaac, all the places in my life that I can work so that I can live out a wholeness that is my and was his birthright, it seems the best I can do would be to let joyfulness in– even in the midst of agony, if I can find a place within myself that is informed by joy and reverie and hope and gratitude for the moments of true happiness, then I can indeed find a way to Shine On.

Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.


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