My rational mind knows this isn’t true, I have a lot to be thankful for, a job, a home, family, friends. But sometimes my loss just filets me! Slices and dices me into pieces that I just don’t even know how to start putting back together.For example, this nice, long, 4-day holiday weekend did a number on me right out of the gate. All my co-workers were excited, and why wouldn’t they be? Everyone has plans with family. They are going “up north”, or they just had a baby and will be busy showing her off to the relatives, they will be BBQ-ing and boating…Yes. I am jealous. I certainly wasn’t planning on sulking around all weekend, but the fact that I don’t have family here, and no longer have a husband – he was my family here – hurts. HURTS, HURTS, HURTS! Whiz boom bang!! Everyone’s going up, and I am headed down.
I’ve said it before. The loss cripples you. And the healing, learning to walk again, it fucking hurts. At least I know now, that for every step forward, I can expect a few steps back. But if I don’t want the next Fourth of July to be a dud, I’m gonna’ need way more sparklers, more firepower. I have to start “rebuilding”.
As for this long weekend? I spent the first day crying. And the fireworks, yep, those brought out the waterworks, too. It can happen so quickly, the descent from “you seem to be doing well”, down into the dark hole of despair. My foundation still feels so battered, the building blocks so bruised. Not too long ago, I was hoping to see my family expand by one, but instead, it decreased by two…what a blow. It’s ok to still feel shattered, right?
But I have to stop this free-fall because the deeper you slide, the harder it is to get out of the hole. So I dragged my bedraggled self to yoga. I haven’t been in months, I know my body is weak. And my mind, it was very distracted. Especially by the shorts that the guy in front of me was wearing. They were patterned in huge colorful Lego pieces. Hello! I’m trying to stay upright here! Can’t you see I’m shaking and wobbling? It was hard enough just to get here, never mind, to begin building back my strength, my foundation, my life…this is serious business, do you need to distract me with your crazy shorts?
But the teacher reeled me back in. Focus. Set an intention for today’s class. Ok: my intention is just to get through it. I set my expectations low, as low as I am feeling. And thank god I have good balance, ‘cuz my arms were shaking, my legs like noodles, and my mind did wander, from the lego shorts to the conversation I had the other night with my neighbor Betty. Betty is 80. She’s a widow. She also lost her daughter to an accidental drug overdose last year. Betty is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Her eyes sparkle, and despite her losses, she has a soft smile, a gentle outlook, and fire in her heart to live fully. She said to me, “The biggest lesson I have learned is that you have to adapt. You have to adapt to survive.” She’s wise, and it has nothing to do with age.
Just last week, three different people also mentioned the word “resilience” to me. You know, the ability to “bounce back” from a tragedy, or traumatic events. They told me that I am resilient. Are you kidding?! I don’t feel that way. Especially this weekend, as the 4th of July blows loneliness up in my face, and I feel myself crumbling, again, to nothing. I had something once…a nice solid foundation…why should I even bother to build another??? It might just get stomped on, too, my Lego castle flattened by a bratty brother.
But I keep trying to remind myself of the fluidity of life, and the stretchiness we have as human beings to change, to move, to shift our perspective and grow. To adapt. We are so lucky. We have so much possibility. We really do. And I was kind of surprised in yoga. I felt stronger than I expected. Shaky, and easily distracted, but my core, apparently, it’s still there.
You know, Legos have been around a long time. Since 1949. Over 150 years. Those colorful little blocks have resilience! And they’ve adapted. They didn’t just stick with the fire engines and battleships, there’s Star Wars, the Transformers, Lord of the Rings! Someone even made birds out of Legos – how creative, and unexpected. I wish I’d thought of the idea myself.
So, I’ve got these blocks…they might be in a pile, and they might be bruised, but it’s better than nothing. In fact, it’s everything. It’s the reminder, to start somewhere, to start here, one block at a time, even when I feel like I have nothing. Who knows what I can build…
I guess that’s what I learned this weekend, from the goofy, wonderful, Lego shorts of some guy standing in front of me in yoga.