Eddies, ellipses, and deep sea dwellers

When you are in the worst of it…you think it will never end. You feel like someone dunked you into the pool of sadness, your lungs fill with water, and when you come up gasping for air, you get dunked again. Come on. I didn’t even get a chance to breathe! That’s how it can feel for quite a while. Death is a choker. And loss, a deep, deep well.

But slowly, you learn to calm the waters. When you feel the wave of panic coming ’round, instead of fighting it, you roll with it. You ride it out. Or – you plug your nose, close your eyes, and let it pass, fully aware that you can only use escapism so many times…

Sometimes you drop to the bottom, allowing the weight of the water to push you down, and you are able to sit still for a while in that dark cool place, feeling it for what it is. Cold. Lonely. Beautiful and still. That’s what I always loved about diving toward the bottom of a lake. There was anxiety there, too, holding my breath, heading toward the quiet coolness, totally alone, testing my strength, pushing my lungs, pushing at life. And then the warmth…as I’d swim back toward the surface. Feeling like I was bursting back into the world, a place of air, sounds, laughter and sun.

It does get better.

They say that you will always carry your loss with you, and that you learn to live with your grief. I don’t doubt this. And I am aware that the deepest pool, the one that contains the darkest moments, will always be there. It has incredible power. My chest still tightens at the thought of falling back in, it can pull you down so quickly, with such force.

But it has eased a little. It’s like the death-grip loosened, and spread itself out into smaller eddies. Places that are still swirling with the same water, but less deep. Less painful. Less potential for emotional drowning. There are even moments, when I dare to say, I am the ROCK, damn it….around which everything else can just go ahead and swirl.

Thank god. It does get better. I am better.

But definitely not the same…(<—- and if I might say so myself, this ellipsis is probably the most appropriately placed one in this entire blog)

Apparently over 95% of the ocean has yet to be explored. And what of our minds, our psyche? And the mysterious beauty of soul, spirit, and those incredible deep water fish…

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Parallel paths

I was at the dog park the other day, getting ready to walk the loop. It was the first warm day we’d had in while. The first true inkling of summer. It was gorgeous, and on the inside and outside, I felt good to be alive.

As I entered the park, I found myself walking along side a nice young man. When I say young, I just mean he wasn’t the retired chatty college professor I have ocasionally walked the loop with. And I should clarify, that it’s not exactly customary to “walk the loop” with other dog owners, but sometimes if the dogs connect and the conversation between owners is flowing, it just happens, and you find yourself walking the whole way round with a stranger.

So, this young guy and I just happened to be walking along together, on parallel paths. We didn’t really talk much, mainly about the beautiful day. I’ll admit, I snuck a few glances at him. He was cute. I liked his energy. And for the record, there are plenty of loonies at the dog park, too. It’s amazing how you can sense their energy from miles away; I steer clear of them, as I have enough of my own “crazy” to contend with right now. But this guy seemed nice, I could tell he was someone who appreciates nature. He said he heard it might be in the 80s all next week, and I said, really? I don’t look that far ahead anymore. Then his dog went one way, my dog went the other, and our paths diverged. It was completely natural.

As natural as the feeling that followed. My heart relaxed and a sliver of light got in. I took a deep breath, and I thought, yes. Maybe one day, I will meet someone again who I will want to shimmy up next to, and walk a parallel path with. It might not be today. It might not be with this young man. I won’t be going home and immediately uploading a dating profile, but I am open, and that’s saying a lot.

Touch-and-go

20130510-103247.jpgWhen learning how to fly, student pilots practice something that is called a “touch-and-go”. You bring the plane in for a landing, but right as the wheels hit the runway, you pull the steering wheel toward you, fire everything back up, and take off again, barely touching down, never completing a full landing.

It makes sense to do this kind of exercise, to kill two birds with one stone, to practice these over and over again. After all, landings and take-offs are the most critical part of every flight.

I wish I had more practice at this in real life. I wish I knew how to turn a dive-bomb into a powerful take-off, an ascent of intention. A trip with a destination. Yeah, I know…it’s about the journey, the ride, and I have the “opportunity” to create a whole new life here! Well, blah. I liked the journey I was on, and it was nowhere near complete.

But apparently it wasn’t time for me to get comfortable in a marriage, to start nestling down for a family. Because here I am, airborne, jettisoned back into the search. The search for meaning, for happiness, for love—for what?

That’s how it feels when you lose your mate, no matter where you were at in your journey together. Talk about a rudely interrupted flight. A mangled, incomplete landing, from which you have to recover and take off again. Some couples just had a baby, then boom. Some couples had a rich, long history, and were finally enjoying retirement. Boom. Some, newly engaged, a wedding in the works. Others, deeply entrenched in parenting four kids (I know five different women who found themselves widowed moms to 4 kids)….

We all know there are certain climbs we make in life, toward milestones, and that after we reach them, we relax, we let go of the pressures, the anxieties. I wasn’t someone with a strict life-schedule or plan, I never assumed I would get married. But once I did, I was happy. I loved being married to my husband. Of course there are no guarantees in life, or in a marriage; a successful take-off doesn’t guarantee a smooth flight, or a successful landing.

I accept that this is now the place, from where I have to take off, that there is no other choice. I can’t land back in the past, I can only rev up the engines and hope to get lift. A feat of nature it will be, flying with directional instruments all messed-up, fuel-tank on empty, flight-plan in flames, control-tower on strike, and my co-pilot, gone.

Wish me luck, steep climb ahead…but I also see mystical mountainous cumulonimbus, if ever there was a dream-cloud to take respite in…

Widows and Orphans

In the world of typography there are all kinds of unique terms. Things that only typesetters, design geeks, editors and the like, pay attention to. For example, it is considered bad form to have one word on a line, all by its lonesome, finishing off a paragraph. This is referred to as a
widow.

Or, if you end up sending that word, and a few others to kick off the next page, then those stragglers are called orphans. Because sadly, they don’t have a mothership paragraph on the new page, that they can call home. The paragraph from whence they came is on a page in the past, yet they can’t just add themselves to the beginning of a new paragraph, it wouldn’t make sense. So they reside at the top of the page, looking forlorn.

Both of these scenarios are attempting to resolve the same issue. Keeping the story looking pretty, without losing any of its meaning. Bridging the gap from one page to the next. It’s just a question of how you write the play. Do you end it with a lonely word, or start the next page with a couple of lost ones?

It’s kind of sad to think about. But when I hear these terms used in relation to my job, it always makes me smile sympathetically, as they are so descriptive, and also because I feel sorry for those little words and their predicaments.

I am now a widow. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the use of this term. It bugged me in the beginning, and it will probably upset me when I mark the box on my taxes, but for what it’s worth, it tells you something about me, it’s a snapshot of my story. Not the whole story. More like the dust jacket.

The deeper story, when you read between the lines, is not as easily defined. The day to day struggles to find footing back on the pages of life. Feeling like the last word at the end of a beautiful poem, and a new word, just written, the timorous beginning of a whole new chapter – a widow and orphan, all at the same time.

This is where I find myself. In the space in-between. Trying to bridge that gap between what was *our* past, with what is now *my* future. A dangling participle, a dangling participant, in the next chapter of my life.

Hierarchy of Emotions

Thank god no one asked me to be thankful this past weekend.

If someone had actually asked me to express thanks, something like this might have come spewing out: I don’t care if it’s f*ing thanksgiving. My husband died this past year, so did my dad, and I don’t feel “thankful”.

That is really how I felt; the overriding sentiment was not one of gratitude, despite the many good things I do have. Overall, am I a thankful person? Yes. Aren’t we all? Everybody claims to be – on Facebook, in particular. Thankful for family, friends, jobs, a home, a pet, a pair of boots, a turkey on the table, blah blah blah. It’s easy to throw the thanks around when you haven’t just lost something precious. Why do people feel the need to trumpet how thankful they are? Why not just be thankful and shut up about it? Facebook. Sometimes I think it’s just a place for people to brag.

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