Monday, February 4, 2013
Last year on February 4, on a cool gray morning, I was moving from my big, beloved house in the country into a small apartment in the middle of Portland. I had left my house and almost all it contained, packed up my cats, clothes and a few belongings and let go.
I let go of a life I thought I wouldn't survive without.
When I think of those days just before leaving, I remember things in flashes. Everything felt raw and harsh, yet hazy with shock and grief. That strange detached sense of being submerged in the depths. I can see these flashes of memory, but they seem like they happened to someone else.
The last few heart breaking minutes I spent in my old house. My sweet friend tearfully and gently telling me that it was time to leave as I sobbed and fought with reality. Closing the door behind me and feeling completely numb and empty. The cats yowling for the entire 90 minute drive as I shifted between crying and feeling numb again, wondering if yowling like them would release a little of the pain that was choking me.
But I wasn't alone and that saved me.
There were many people who loved me so much that they managed to make these days less terrible and lonely. They helped me take care of details I simply couldn't bring myself to. They unpacked for me, stayed with me that first night in the new apartment, they brought me food and took good care of me. They even went through some of Dave's things for me because I had reached a point where the pain was overwhelming and all I could manage were the basics. Eat, try to sleep, and cry.
I took notes about the entire process, I tried to stay present. I made the requisite phone calls, but I was barely hanging on. Since then, though, I have felt stronger and stronger even though it didn't seem like it most days. I've made a life for myself here and found ways to settle in. I've fallen in love with this city and gradually grown to love myself and even appreciate the potential of my new path too.
But on this anniversary, I can't stop thinking about the love of those friends. They each took away some of the darkness and fear and pain in their own wonderful way. Next to the days right after Dave died, it was the hardest days of my life. The most draining and scary. But there they were, offering their love and kindness. I grabbed onto their support like a drowning person and felt the gratitude flood through me.
I sit here in the living room of my cozy new home in the new city I already miss the second I leave it and I realize how far I've come. I had to let go to know what I was capable of. I had to loosen my grip on what I thought was my life's plan and find out what the actual plan was. I had to participate in that plan by being open and following the paths that presented themselves to me. I had to go out and FIND some of those paths. I had to enlist the help of so many. I had to learn to lean on others and accept help. I had to trust myself. None of it was easy, but that's what makes it so precious to me now. It was hard-won.
All that hard work came from the fuel of those first few days I thought I wouldn't survive. Once I saw that I did survive, I could move forward. Before I was able to see the possibility of a better time ahead of me, I had those incredible people who cared about me, holding me up when I could barely stand on my own.
Dave's parents have told me a few times that some of his last words to them were "Make sure Cassie's OK". I don't think he had to worry. I made it on my own but I made it surrounded the entire time by the energy of those who love me, including him.
I am so grateful to have found this feeling of peace and joy again. There was a long period of time when I thought I'd never feel it again. I'm able to see now, how strong I really was, even when I felt completely broken. I was so low and scared in those days that I couldn't rely on my own hope. I had to borrow it from those who had faith in me.
I know that the universe doesn't deal me a better hand now just because I've been through hell, but there's just as much chance that the future holds amazing things, too. I know sad times will come again and little things will set me back. I know big bad things can and will happen. I know I have an incredibly long way to go, but now that I've crested the hill of the one year mark since that pivotal move, I can look behind me, at the distance I've come and marvel. I guess I really am strong. There is no denying that now. And so is the love that helped me get here.