A JOURNEY OF JOY
This is the second excerpt from my journal “A Journey of Joy”.” A more real title for the journal probably would be “Oh crud, I am a widow after 37 years of marriage!??!!!???”
Actually I can think of a few more descriptive words than “oh crud.” I said some of them late at night in the first months after my hubby Bruce died of a brain tumor in 2005.
I never, ever expected that at age 55 I would be single again. The last time I had dated I was 18 and eight track tapes were the hot new thing.
I never, ever expected to deal by myself with bears eating my water lines or snow storms burying my car.
I never expected to sleep alone in a bed that held the scent, the dent but not the person of the man I had loved for years.
How could I have anticipated Bruce would die young? We were going to grow old together and die at age 95 after one last great love making.
It certainly didn’t work out that way. My world that WAS ended and my life in the world of AFTER began.
I kept a journal those first few years. It included letters to other men and women whose partners had died of a brain tumor. Some entries included conversations with parents whose children had died out of step, way out of step with the natural order of life.
I look back at the journal now and see sorrow, growth, learning, and the gifts I never expected any more than I expected Bruce’s death.
This journal entry was from 2009. I had just returned from a vacation with a man I was falling in love with. We had motorcycled through South Dakota and I had visited my son Adam and his wife and new baby in Boulder, Colorado.
Many people expect that at four years a person would be over their grief. People who have lost a loved one know better. Grief ebbs and flows for years, for a lifetime.
You embrace the new experiences in life and yet still feel the gentle mist of loss.
I loved the feel of the wind in my hair while riding on a motorcycle, but dating and vacationing with a new man brought up new emotions.
I loved holding my newest granddaughter but knowing Bruce would never hold her brought up other emotions.
This journal entry reflects the yin and yang of that time.
I have illustrated this entry with photos I took that summer and fall of 2009. Looking at the photos I see how beautiful the world was while inside of me I was faced with the challenge of being open to beauty and sorrow.
EMBRACING THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW
I am back from my vacation and still have a few days off before I return to work. I had a wonderful time traveling to the Black Hills and to Colorado.
It was the first time I’d spent eight days in a row with my guy friend and we had a great time.
I also held my new granddaughter Willa who is just a month-old. The memories of being a young mom holding her daddy as a baby made me smile.
It was an amazing trip but I am glad to have a few days at home alone to transition and to find myself.
Being on vacation with family and friends filled my mind and soul with new adventures . . . and maybe just a little busyness.
When I rode a motorcycle in the Black Hills or bicycled through Boulder or held my new granddaughter there was little time to think too many deep thoughts.
Here, back home in the forests of Oregon, on my land, there is a silence like no other. It draws me in as each hour passes.
It connects me to the cycle of my life . . . to birth, to love and even to death.
I feel it this morning as the sun filters through the trees. There is a slight breeze, nothing like the gusts of wind that accompanied the thunderstorms in the Rockies a few days ago.
Here the wind barely tousles the maple leaves . . . a whisper, a sigh of wind. It sounds like the gentle breathing of my new baby granddaughter when she lay in my arms.
It sounds like the soft rise and fall of my guy friend’s chest as I fell asleep in his arms.
It sounds like the last release of life that escaped my husband Bruce’s lips just before he died.
At first I almost have to force myself to be still. The draw of the road and activity is tempting. It is easier to avoid the memories of loss when I am moving and doing.
The sunlight shifts and dances with the wind and leaves.
My breathing deepens.
I begin to reconnect to me.
I begin to feel and remember and embrace the cycle of my life.
I feel the miracle of a new child being born and the loss of a husband dying.
I feel the wonder of a new love growing and the sorrow of an old love receding.
I feel the hope for a future filled with possibilities. I feel gratefulness for a past that has given me cherished memories.
The fear is there too. I know what can happen. Death, house fires, unexpected traumas are not just something I’ve read about. I know what it is like to have such things happen.
We all do, don’t we?
The emotions and the surreal wonder of all experiences are woven into every fabric of my being. They are part of who I am now.
It takes extra courage sometimes to stand still and accept that life is both beautiful and deeply sorrowful.
It takes courage to slow down and not flee to distractions.
It takes courage to accept.
Yes, I have a past and, yes, I will have the future.
Yes, I feel both sorrow and joy.
And yes, if allowed, I feed the core of distant anxiety that resides in my being knowing that more losses and changes will come. That is life.
But right at this moment as I look at the maples leaves I have the silent space between past and future. It is time to just BE.
IN THIS MOMENT ALL IS PERFECT.
Sending my love to all of you and wishing you a time to be.