Apart Vs. A Part…

I haven’t been able to write poetry.

This, I am certain, is the epitome of what loss does to someone. Poems used to just rise up inside of me and spill out on paper or my keyboard, effortlessly. Inspiration was everywhere. A sunny day. A quiet moment. A breeze blowing through a field of tall grass. A boy. I always said I had no technique, I was more of a binge and purge poet. A poet. I considered myself a mama, a massage therapist and a poet, if I had to describe myself.
But now I am only truly able to say one of these. And the vacuum that the absence of these two things has made is so apparent.

It seems to be related to my inability to share my feelings with others, in person, face to face. When I gave Isaac’s eulogy I said something along the lines of there are no longer words that exist in the physical world that represent how I feel about Isaac. What I meant of course is the loss of Isaac. And even still, though I have chased them for more than a year and a half, there aren’t words I can say out loud that give it a voice. It is wordless.

I’m struggling these days with the understanding that I don’t have much of a life outside of work. And though I love my massage clients and my co workers in the tasting room, a full life cannot be made from these limited relationships. I need more but I’m not sure what. Who. When. I feel a little paralyzed, if I’m completely honest. I want to feel better. I want to live. But I feel trapped without the ability to express or relax in my mind and body.

I work a lot. This is not a coincidence. At work I can cultivate intentional boundaries; I can be superficial– not fake, but rather, surfactant– I can hold space for those on my table and I can smile and be cheerful and helpful for customers who want to taste and learn about products available at the meadery. I can work long days and distract myself with busyness and insert myself in projects. I can keep an arms length, literally and figuratively, between myself and people while still feeling as though I am “in the world”.

Today is 60 days until my 40th birthday, and in true social butterfly fashion, I have planned an entire weekend of celebration with loved ones, and a big party too. Because I’m a Leo AND I love birthdays, mine and anyone else’s, more than any other day– yet it is in striking contrast to my current reality, which is a non existent social life. As it draws nearer, I wonder why I’ve planned such an epic event.

As I’m writing this, sitting at my patio table in the morning light and warmth, a skein of geese, (a word I learned last night!) has flown past me, along the dune, due west of my home.  It is the largest flock I have ever seen. I stopped writing to take it in. I tried to count them all and could not come close to counting even though the view of them was long, and I heard them before I saw them, and had time to count. There were so many. After they passed, I brought my vision back to this screen, looking down, and then I heard the wing flap, that deep bass of force, and I looked up and one goose flew over my head, low over the house, alone, heading south east, away from the others that were flying toward crystal lake or point bestie to the north west of my house. This, during, while in the midst of writing about my own solitude, about Isaacs— WOW. Just, wow.

I do pretty good on my own, I like my own company, and Joshua’s, though he is such a social creature I know that he patiently tolerates my anxiety over being social. I dont want or mean to exhaust his patience. I’m just not sure where to start again. How to be a part of the natural order of things, how to be a part of the beautiful world. And like this lone goose, it feels unnatural to prefer solitude. As curious as I am about where that lone goose was headed, I am curious about my own trajectory.

Those geese, that goose, sidetracked me and yet, kept it real. This happened!!! I can’t help but again consider Mary Olivers eloquent poem, Wild Geese. And goodness, how multidimensional and expansive and yet on point even this is, as I considered my old poetess yearnings, on the 25th of the month, which is always a little achey, as it is the day of the month Isaac got his angel wings.  What an incredible reminder…. Ok, Isaac! Okay Great Mystery, ok God, ok world…. You’ve got my full attention!

Wild Geese 

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

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.


2 thoughts on “Apart Vs. A Part…”

  1. Hi Christina, I don’t want to comment publicly this time. I am always so inspired by your writing and see myself in your words. It pulls me into such deep places in my own soul, such sacred ground. It truly is a form of poetry for me. A lover of words myself, I would love to have one of those deep conversations rather than reduce it into a lofty sound bite. There is so much richness in your most recent post but I was in the middle of this comment on the last post about A Part vs. Apart, so I will continue.

    In reading that post I was reminded of a saying I love: “We have no art,” say the Balinese, “we just do everything as beautifully as we can”. You are grieving as beautifully as one can. I say that knowing the horrendous other side to that. But to me, the epitome of what it means to be human is that ability to hold the paradox of beauty in the midst of horror. Perhaps we are mistaken in the belief that those who have not experienced that paradox are the lucky ones. I’m not so sure it doesn’t make for a life sentence of a shallow existence.

    The lyrics in a song I like say “There’s beauty in the breakdown”. More and more in my program and in life I see that it is our brokenness that binds us. Your blog is a testament and a doorway to that truth.

    Speaking of doorways, your writing seems to pull me into that dream-like state I was in the morning after the NMEAC awards when I called you. It was in the midst of that call that I recalled the phenomenon of coming down my stairs and looking out of my picture window to find myself inside a bubble, an orb, a terrarium that in my groggy state that seemed normal at the time. It came the “knowing” that it was Isaac. I’m sure that I was prompted into that call.

    And I feel like I really don’t deserve this. Why me? I really wasn’t ‘that close’ to Isaac. But maybe this too, like art, cannot be forced and chooses us. Perhaps it has less to do with a personal connection than an expedient doorway. Perhaps he is just wisely using his resources, those of us who because of our incessant spiritual pursuits have acquired ears that can listen and eyes that can see a little better through the thinner parts of the veil. We are the messengers in service to fulfilling his ongoing Task: To bind this community in our brokenness so we can help each other get to the other side of what he couldn’t. To help us all to see that we are A Part rather than Apart. I feel honored and undeserving all at the same time. And it makes me wonder who else has been using me in this way. My little brother? My Dad? How much of what I think and do is truly mine? I’ve had glimpses of my Dad’s influence and masterful manipulation of phenomena but haven’t recognized my brother’s. Except that it has lived in Avery’s persona, intelligence, sensitivity and humor. The closer Avery gets to age my little brother was when he died, the more it seems possible that a duplicate relationship is being played out, a re-cognition I can thank Isaac for.

    Love you, Sharron



    1. Sharron– I believe you hit the Mail on the head– each messenger Isaac has ‘used’ has been a testament to his utilizing his relieves– those in spiritual pursuit– who I can’t help but think he knows will find me and share. It has happened since day one– I’m so grateful to be on the path with you! I have always told Isaac and anyone else who would listen– that you and Paul taught me, back in my brief nanny days for Avery, that you could be an autodidact– until I met you I thought smart people went to college, were “given” their smarts– at 21 yrs old I learned that we can teach ourselves by being brave enough to explore beyond our comfort levels. You had a huge impact on me as a young woman and Isaac knew that, because I said it so often, credited you with showing me the way and the light and the truth. I think there is zero coincidence that he reached you early, just as I knew to– I reached out to you within 24 hrs of horror because I knew you would know the way to help me usher him into the light by letting him go– letting him be free. Shock didn’t scathe this knowing. That means so much to me. Every. Single. Day.

      I respect your need for privacy on this post, if you ever feel it is safe to share, please let me publish it. I think it is a valuable insight. Thank you for being you. And always role modeling for me how I can be, too. 💛


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s