Monday, July 1, 2013
Yesterday evening, I took a walk around my neighborhood. I was hoping it would help my headache and my storm-cloud mood. Everyone was out with their dog for a walk and all the doggy antics made me smile. Just being out among the living made me smile.
Then I passed the yard.
There was something about this back yard that made me crumple up into myself. Made my eyes brim with hot tears.
The raised beds overflowing with veggies and flowers so similar to the ones I grew lovingly from seed every year.
The hammock swinging in the breeze.
The slight mess that made it clear that the owners lived a life of fun and creativity.
In that moment, it represented what I had, what I can’t have now, what I’ve lost and what I worry I’ll never get to experience again.
And then again, in the two years since Dave died, so many beautiful things have happened (many of which I’ve created myself) that I’d never have predicted. The experience has exceeded my expectations in pain, heartache AND in small miracles. I think it might just be up to me to see the miracles for what they are and not spend so much time gawking at what could have been and what has been taken and instead spend a little more time appreciating what is.
It sounds like a load of bullshit and most days I both feel that and will say that, but even on the short walk I took, I had the chance to either breathe in the summer evening, note the show-offy dogwood blossoms and smell the roses and jasmine, feeling gratitude for them, or I could suffer and rail and inwardly pound my fists and scream at the universe.
Or I could do a little of both, which is what I ended up doing. I imagined going home and smashing every breakable item in my house until the fury and frustration at what I’ve lost burned out a little. I cried a little. I even played the tape of the day he died in my head for a few seconds, feeling my chest tighten and the sobs build steam under my sternum as I pictured the doctor telling me he was gone.
But then, I turned up the music on my iPod, breathed in the smells of summer in Portland, and headed for home. Where I am now. My home. On my balcony in the treetops. I can hear a cedar waxwing whistling somewhere above me. The breeze blows a complex mixture of summer blossoms and dinners cooking.
And I hold both the pain and the beauty together, inside me. How I can fit it all in there, I have no idea. Every day, that’s my challenge. To turn away from the bad long enough to see the beauty and then to look at the bad and feel it, without censoring myself from it. Without feeling bad for wallowing a little. Without judging myself for still feeling it.
It’s there and can’t be denied, but so is that beauty. Unlike the bad, the beauty doesn’t come looking for me quite as much. I have to look for it. It plays hard to get while the negative thoughts flirt mercilessly with me and are always there for the taking.
Fortunately, I like a challenge.