|Forgive Yourself (M.A. Reilly, 6.3.17)|
Have I been sleeping?
I've been so still
Afraid of crumbling
- Melissa Etheridge
I did not know I was sleeping awake--walking through the days and months after Rob's death with eyes open wide, and yet, somehow blind. At such times, sadness is more buoy than anchor. It keeps afloat the body that has little direction it can name or know. It gives meaning to the march of days and nights that follow the death helping to soften that slow trickle of time by the waning and waxing of tears. At first trepidation creeped into my steps and living felt more tenuous than not. The simplest decisions felt too overwhelming to make.
These first year was marked by getting through, crying less, feeling more, and eventually beginning to notice the world beyond my immediate reach still pulsed with life.
|Image I made in March.|
Was it simply a matter of learning to draw parts: mouths, eyes, ears, noses, the line of the jaw as I first told myself? Or was it more complicated?
Was I trying to relearn the curve of my own face? To know how the tremble of lips does give way to the lightening of eyes? Each time I dropped white paint into the iris of an eye, I animated that image. Was this process a means to also animate myself?
Possibility is not an external matter--a Holy Grail to seek. Rather, hope and possibility are rekindled within and among others.
My son recently told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. I bristled at his words and initially felt even sorrier for myself until this too felt burdensome and I stopped. Years ago a therapist I was seeing gave me a directive I did not want to do. I quickly asked, How will I ever do that?
He didn't answer me at first. Rather he asked me to lift one of my feet off of the carpet and I did.
"Like that," he told me.
It is not that I haven't been busy. I have. But beneath these activities, I have been a body waiting. A woman waiting for something to change.
How do you move through grief? How do you separate grief from a body?
Lift your heart off of the floor. Secure it where it has always belonged, and move on, knowing grief will follow, but it will not lead.
It was Edward Said who wisely told us that we are well past a beginning before we can name it. The distance between Rob's illness and death, the aftermath, and now is measurable--allowing me to see my husband's life and death, and the continuation of my life, my son's life--here, now.
There is hope and possibility these days and I cannot locate a single event that marked this transformation as fact for there is no single event, no shining moment. As I mourned, life around me continued and I slowly tested welcoming the roar and press of living with tender hands--so often supported by others.
This life, I call my own, is what I make. It is so often about what we make, alone and with others. Sometimes it is that complicated and that simple.