|Painting I made after Rob’s death. I incorporated his writing into the work.|
“A beloved spiritual teacher once told me that I kept protecting myself from losses that had already happened.” Geneen Roth, This Messy, Magnificent Life: A Field Guide, p. 15.I.
I’m heading south. The sun has yet to rise and the sway of the double decker train might lull me to sleep at another time, but not this morning. I’m reading Geneen Roth’s new book when I find myself suddenly stopping to reread the line I quoted at the top of this post. Something in these words has pulled me from the shared universe of book and reader into this present moment. The words resonate for I too have attempted to safeguard myself from old pain.
The heart wants what it wants.
What the last two years have taught me about grief is that new pains arise. Or at least I used to think they were new. Now I’m less sure.
I want to think that the last vestiges of grief are signaled by an acceptance to give up self-protection and live knowing the very definition of living is so often some degree of pain. Living first meant contending with the multiple losses that accompany any one death.
What might Rob make of my and Devon’s lives now?
A few days ago, Dev and I watched the recent Star Wars movie—the name escapes me. By my count this must be episode 8. Both Rob and Devon were fans of Star Wars and for the first time that I can recall I experience a sense of Rob as the film started. It was brief—perhaps a minute or so and quite understated, but nonetheless there was a shift in energy. I felt his presence—a shiny kindness that surrounded me. As the feeling dissipated I looked up and outside a back window—the same window I stared out of for the 19 days Rob had been home before he died—the reddest cardinal I have ever seen sat on a snow covered branch. It remained there for more than 5 minutes and finally I turned my eyes back to the movie.
I thought moving on was the goal. Now I see that as more trap than movement. It’s not moving on after all. It’s living. Nothing more than that.