Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#SOL16: This is Love

Winding Home (M.A. Reilly, South Dakota, 2010)


Yesterday, I posted about being undone by the loss of Rob and how I walked across the street to a neighbor for comfort. I was such an emotional mess. I am reminded here of my Aunt Alice who aways kept a tissue or two up the sleeve of her cardigan.  I was a box-deep-in-tissues-messy. Feeling this way, especially in public, is uncomfortable.

What I want you to know, what I feel compelled to say is that the walk across the street, allowing myself to be so vulnerable publicly, was an action propelled by being well-loved. Yes, well-loved. This is a gift my husband gave to me. It is truly a gift that keeps giving.

During the 28 years we were together I learned with Rob how being vulnerable is a bridge to love. Rob is the first person I let in emotionally. Being vulnerable meant that I would love him and I knew he would hurt me. Vulnerability meant that even though I would and did hurt him, he would also continue to love me. Vulnerability was being my imperfect self, my very flawed self with Rob. During those 28 years, I learned that I did not have to be good to be loved. My husband did not have to be strong to be loved. Love did not have such requisites. Our love, like ourselves, was so very imperfect. Our wounds were doors we could and did walk through, for our wounds revealed more about ourselves than those who might have wounded.

I am reminded here of teaching Louise Gl├╝ck's book of poems, Ararat to graduate students at Teachers College in Manhattan some years ago. I opened the study of literature course by distributing pages from Ararat. Students had time in class to read the poem they were given and determine how to read it aloud to the group. Then we performed the poems in the order the poet arranged the book. I wanted the students to hear the arc of the book--to understand that the arrangement of poems is itself a poem. Tonight though, I am thinking of the closing poem, "First Memory." It reads:
Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved. 
All this practice at love with Rob (and marriage is often a lot of practice) helps me now when when my place in the world feels less certain, when possibilities feel foreign, when wounds from such immense loss fester. The ways in which I have learned to love and be loved help me now when I am emotionally messy, when my need for others is so very high, when I am not 'getting better', when I am so publicly imperfect. Rob's love for me, our practice at love for so long, my understanding of how love alters, deepens, becomes less complicated, simpler--allows me now to take the steps I choose to take to heal.






18 comments:

  1. I really love this. At nearly 11 years of marriage, I'm just starting to realize what I don't know, and what it might should look like. This glimpse into a longer marriage, one full of honesty and vulnerability, was wonderful. Thank you. I'm so sorry for your loss of Rob.

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    1. I'm glad the post resonated. Marriage, like everything else alive, evolves. Thanks for taking time to read and respond:)

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  2. such proof that many times life's most beautiful pearls are found in the journey through the mess and allowing ourselves to hold that space; many of the sentiments you express above, once I have acknowledged such in myself, have given me strength as I now in the end there's not only a lesson, but somehow, things will be richer in the end, even when that is no where visible in the moment I am in; thanks again to you Mary Ann for letting me walk beside you on this journey

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    1. Thank you Jolie for your support, your art making, your response. So deeply appreciated.

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  3. I too lost a husband and had many moments when I was surprised that my heart was still beating, but you're right. There is grace to be found in that the loss is as profound as the love is. Life will get better. Thank you for the gentle reminder not to take what we have for granted.

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    1. Thank you Judy and I am sorry for your loss. It helps to know that things will get better. The loss is as profound as the love. So true.

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  4. I too lost a husband and had many moments when I was surprised that my heart was still beating, but you're right. There is grace to be found in that the loss is as profound as the love is. Life will get better. Thank you for the gentle reminder not to take what we have for granted.

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  5. That is the story of what I have learned from my husband, too - a love that heals, and allows for life.

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    1. It is a gift to be treasured, used, returned in like.

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  7. After I digest one of your posts Mary Ann, I take time responding, making sure I'm not "telling" you what to do or using our shared life challenge to talk about myself. It's a careful balance for me as I respond. What astounds me is that there's both a shared connection and yet each relationship is so unique to itself. Tuvia and I met after a history of living. We didn't learn about relationships as newbies but after 20 years together my loss is huge, as is yours- we love deeply and the tears haven't stopped- I still wake with them.
    I love how you always connect your moments to poetry and how you allowed your students to find their way to the poems that you loved. I have yet to write my grief poetically but hmm... maybe I am in my way.
    Hope you have a day soon, that I had yesterday,
    Bonnie

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    1. The set of letters you author feel so immediate, so necessary. That is poetry. "Tuvia and I met after a history of living." reads like the opening to a book. Just a thought as you sit on your new patio furniture...

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    2. Mary Ann and Bonnie, your exchanges are always so profound. The poet inside is becoming visible.

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  8. When the one so instrumental in our learning how to love is absent from our lives in the physical sense of being absent, it's as though we're unmoored from ourselves. I think about such loss often these days as I and my husband age. I can't imagine the depth of your grief and the journey toward healing. Cry all you want, all you need. Know that your words and the honesty with which your write reachers across cyberspace and touches the lives of all who read your posts.

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    1. Than you Glenda. I seem to be unable to not cry and it helps so to read your words that say, cry all you want.

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  9. My sisters and me - we were always good criers. As children I remember big, hearty, world-ending, hitching, teary sighs of crying over things that, looking back, probably didn't warrant quite that level of reaction. Still, we learned to do it well - we were all in. It was a good thing to learn. Cry all you need, Mary Ann x

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    1. I am Mary, I am. Each day I seem to find myself shedding some of those tears as I walk. I wonder now and then what others think who pass me in cars, on foot, while walking dogs. Sometimes I wonder if I should wear a small sign that read, Grieving.

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  10. And healing you shall have because of your deep commitment to being who you are in the wake of tragedy. As always, I wish you well.

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