i must admit that it has been odd not to write here on my blog lately. there is something happening in my life, something that isn’t one of those things one can share on a blog, that has spun me around a bit. something that really has more to do with someone else’s journey, yet, it deeply affects me too. it is all i have wanted to write about. mostly because i am seeking a chorus of people who might say, “oh yes, i know this. it will be hard. you are not alone.”
to dance around something feels odd and almost fake, but i am going to ask that you simply give me the space to do this. sharing the details is not for me to do.
those of you who have been stopping by for a while have probably noticed that i don’t talk about my family too much (as in, this aspect of my childhood is something i had to seek therapy about or when that happened when i was a child and on and on) because those things are deeply private. i do reveal a lot about myself here. but, i tend to reveal things that are just about me, and tend not share intimate details about the other people in my life that are their own pieces to share.
over the last few days, i have realized that because this is my place to come and be fully present, i do want to share some pieces of my childhood, of what is happening right now, of what has lead me to this place, to this moment. so for a while…maybe a long while…there will be this overarching theme of how this non-specific “something” is affecting me and those i love.
february 3 was the second anniversary of my dog traveler’s death. i didn’t dwell on it too much because i spent the day making my way across the country to chicago where another friend and i surprised our friend missy for her 30th birthday. the joy of being part of an oprah-like surprise moment is some kind of fun. keeping the secret and then sharing that moment with six of my dear friends was something i will keep close to my heart always. a perfect moment really. it was a whirlwind of a quick trip, but one that filled me up with all the good stuff that time with friends who have known you more than half your life can give you. (thank you girls.)
returning home though, i was back in the quiet. back to being alone most of the time. back to the place where each day is leading me closer to the time of my grandmother’s death. even though i love spring, and it makes me so happy that the tulips are peeking their way up through the soil, my heart aches because i cannot call her to tell her that the days are warmer and that i can smell spring in the air. this was her favorite time of year. last friday, i walked outside to the backyard with millie after it had just stopped raining and it smelled like the air on a cool spring day outside my grandparents house in south carolina. i could hear myself protesting as she would have demanded that i put on a sweater and my shoes and walk around the yard with her, so that we could see what was happening out there in the world of plants and birds and small animals. that moment last week was like a little whisper from her. it didn’t invite tears, just a smile.
still, i can feel an ache in my chest as i wish she was home so i could call her and say, “i cannot believe this is happening. can you? i am so overwhelmed right now.” and she would listen and then ask me about my plants or what i have been cooking lately. and then we might make plans to talk again soon. i would hear her voice.
back in november, my teacher told me about a workshop that she thought i might be interested in. it was a workshop for yoga teachers at her studio. another friend encouraged me to go, so i have had it in my head for weeks that i would be attending. when this past saturday came around and it was time to go, i realized i had only a vague idea of what the workshop was going to be about and wasn’t quite prepared for what i found when i opened the folder sitting at my seat in the circle at the workshop.
the topic: grief and loss.
the teacher was anna rhodes; a psychologist who studied with, worked with, and was friends with elizabeth kubler-ross. i learned so much in this workshop…and i will just share and share here as the waves of new understanding hit me. i still feel a bit raw from the experience and the combination of it with the other things happening right now.
reflecting on the workshop, i came to realize something important. the timing of my grandmother’s death has greatly affected me. although i know she was old and sick with something the doctor’s could not diagnose. although the timing of her death came as a surprise. although she was “just” my grandmother. although it has been almost two years and on and on…i still feel a bit stuck in the pain of the timing of it all. a few months prior to her death, we had just moved across the country from the only area i had ever lived. several people, and my dog, had been diagnosed with cancer. i didn’t have a full-time job or real sense of self-identity in this new community. my dog had just died of cancer. throughout all of this, the one person i could count on to be home to just chat with me, to answer questions about what to do with a yard and how to plant things, to brainstorm what to make for dinner, to cry about how much i missed traveler, that one person was suddenly gone. she wasn’t available to answer the phone for me to tell her that she was dead. she wasn’t there to say “i’m sorry you are going through this” as i wept about losing her. this is a huge piece of the agony i still feel. my life shifted so much in a few short months, and she was the one constant through it all. and with her death, that constant was taken away. forever.
anna talked about how as people who take care of others, we have to listen to what someone says when describing their pain and grief. people say things like, “i can’t catch my breath.” “my heart feels torn apart.” “my mind is going crazy.” “i can’t remember anything.” we have to listen to this, because this is the reality of how they are feeling physically and emotionally.
hearing this was a true “aha” moment for me. for the last, almost, two years, i have been thinking and sometimes saying that my heart feels broken. literally broken. that when i saw my grandmother in the funeral home, i felt my heart break. and each time i have to remind myself that she is dead, and i have to envision her in that funeral home again to remember, it feels like it breaks again. this is what is happening.
i talked to anna afterwards and she said, “you need to tell the people who take care of you that this is what it feels like so that they can do things for your heart.”
the people who take care of me.
i am a bit stuck at this phrase. but, this has caused me to have a new awareness of what i need.
what i need.
i need to be held. a lot. i need to rest in between my husband and our crazy, furry golden retriever and just feel safe. i need to be honest that my heart feels broken. i need to share my story again and again. i need to seek support in ways i haven’t in the past. i need to wrap myself up in warm blankets and wool sweaters when the chill sets in. i need to be held. i need to have someone pet my head. i need to surround myself with little things that invite happiness. i need to remember what it is that makes me happy. i need to create and push myself. i need to be held. i need to be honest. i need to share all that lives inside me. i need to tell my story. i need to sit by the sea. i need to let another take care of me sometimes. i need to be held and rocked and caressed. i need to be held. i need to be held.
and i am trying to find ways to share what i need and let go of the guilt that comes with asking. to just be honest and let the people who take care of me know what i need.
(whispering now)…maybe you could try this too. we can each try it. and be there for one another in this new experience of realizing and then sharing what we need.