Sunday, June 28, 2015
For T. L. and K. R. especially.
It hits you when you open boxes, digging through things that have meaning so essential to who you are and where you have been: letters of kindness from past lovers mixed in with transcripts from years of college where you didn’t give a fuck; paintings that hung in your grandmother’s home that your small-person’s eyes thought were magical; the honest and intentional letter your now ex-husband wrote as homework for the last hopeful stint of marital therapy that you wish you could unpack a little more now; the heartfelt cards your kids made on your last day of chemo that tell their own story of worry; your mother’s St. Gerard prayer card that hung on her bathroom mirror every day of her journey of motherhood.
You are thousands of miles from many of these experiences; time and physical distance and a long journey of letting muddy water settle into clear has brought you to a new space in a city full of its own personal mark on your life, in a beautiful new home that already feels like the right space for your spirit. And these things make you think of a metaphor that your mentor gave you years ago when you worked in a domestic violence organization. She said “The thing is, Fran, that when you are in the middle of something traumatic, hard, unavoidable in life it’s like you are in a house on fire and you are nattering around trying to decide what to carry out with you. You’re thinking ‘Should I take Auntie Harryette’s doily? Or what about these twist-ties? Where is my juicer?’, all while the house is burning around you until someone finally pulls you out of the house and sits you on the curb across the street. It’s only then, wrapped in a blanket and with the oxygen mask on your face do you realize how things were and how, by anyone's measure, you could have not survived it all, but by the grace of whatever moves things* and people who helped you out, you did.”
Today you are sitting in your new home, in the grey sunlight shifting through the windows of your new favorite spot, listening to the songs friends gave you for the journey here. And you are sifting through these many years of so many things, so much loss, so much love, so many good people that have put their arm around you and guided you to a safer place. And it’s this distance, close enough to remember but far away enough to have perspective on, that allows you to feel the full force of gratitude, of loss, of appreciation, of duty, of remaking, of love and to sit weeping at the weight of it all and in appreciation of the opening that has happened in your life that means the next chapter. That it’s not sifting through the ashes to find what is left, but rather the blessing of the spaces and people that were and are no more, to ritualize the memory and to move forward powerfully, happily, with courage, without anger and into a new life of your own creating. And you are so thankful at this moment for this moment. And you are so acutely aware of friends who need that arm around their shoulders to get them out of their own burning houses. And that’s what it’s all about, this remaking of love and kindredness, of your people, of accepting and receiving love when you can't see what you need but just trusting that others can help guide you. And realizing the path was the path in just the way it had to be.**
It’s beautiful and hopeful and quite different than anything you've ever felt in your entire life. And you are grateful beyond measure, your heart welling and brimming in its fullness. Amen.
*Jan probably said “God” here, but my father always said never ruin a good story for lack of facts.
**I also remember so vividly a FB post from my friend Lee which recalled a moment when she was lying on her bed so ensconced in emotion and feeling that all of the shit she'd been through had been worth it. I think this feeling is similar. I have held on to that post for so long, Lee, and wish I had the exact quote. Thank you for giving life to it.