Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Here comes the sun

I'm nursing a micro hangover today and, armed with my made-up science that vitamin D would help it, I chose to sit outside for lunch today. The sun hit the side of my face in a steady swath of light as a coworker and I gossiped, eyes rolling and tongues clucking like the 1940s hens we are. With temperatures in the high teens all this week, I think it's safe to say that winter's finally behind us - thank god. This truly has been the winter of our discontent - a meandering, lollygagging mess of a season that sleeted over everyone's good cheer and reduced life down to a cycle of being cold and warming up.

Every step forward feels unsure and awkward these days. It's not fear exactly (though CS Lewis' remark that grief feels so much like fear is really spot on most of the time), but more of a tugging at the heart, the stomach, the ribs, telling you that moving forward is dangerous, that staying still is best. Even if things aren't ideal, the idea of making plans and following through on them seems foolhardy and unwise. The gut instinct is to just keep taking calming breaths and convince myself that everything's fine right where it is. And mostly, that's what I do.

Literally me.
I mentioned that with my therapist recently, and we talked about the resiliency of humans, and how, for some, even when our lives are demonstrably "worse" than they were before, as soon as we've begun to adjust to our new normal we want things to now stay exactly as they are. After my mom died, I was desperate to hold on to everyone around me. Then my grandfather died and I became panicked, looking for some kind of superstitious pattern or charm to keep me and my loved ones safe. Now, as I adjust to this life without them, there are moments where I'm okay, not quite happy, but okay, but I tell myself that will only be true as long as everyone stays exactly where they are, forever.
Which is impossible, I know.

I suppose this is coming to the surface now because this week, one of my mom's best friends died. She was a wonderful woman, warm and kind, attending my mother's funeral even as she herself fought brain cancer. My mom cried at the dinner table when she heard about her friend's diagnosis, fresh on the heels of another friend's illness. "All my friends are dying!" she burst out. We joked that she was the healthiest of the bunch. At my mother's funeral her friend and I shared a small, tight hug after the plates of sandwiches and cookies had been cleared away.

"Thank you for loving her," I said.
"Oh, but it was easy!" she exclaimed.

It's my strongest memory of the day.

And now another home is missing its fourth wall, another grandchild won't grow to know his grandmother's hands, another husband adjusts to a queen bed made up for one, a set of daughters is left to grapple with life without their biggest ally. And so it goes. Not just for them, or us, but for thousands every day, all over.

I'm somewhat grateful, in a fucked up way, to be able to see the world this way. To know that so many people are carrying on in spite of what's happened to them, not because of it. It's like learning a new word and then suddenly seeing it everywhere. So many people have lost so much, have suffered so much, and yet we still keep going, still breathe, still blink, still beat. Winter becomes Spring becomes Summer, whether we open the windows or not.

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