12 June 2011

This is one of those days that I could write all day long -- quite a blessed day in my book -- but there is little free time for me to do so today. And so, I will do it now and again, and finish much later tonight.

And interesting text exchange with Lisa (we have lived though letters, email, and now texting. Gosh, we are old):

Me: Lying fallow is a challenge. Busy is easier for me.
Lisa: An idle mind can wreak havoc.
Me: It's not the idle mind that is the challenge.
Lisa: What is?
Me: A mind without direction, without goals, and without a partner. Limbo-like life. In the Catholic sense -- a life without god.
Lisa: Perfect time for Pema Chodron or the like.
Me: Very nice idea. I have some at my bedside.

And an interesting service in church conducted by a man whose experience is wide, varied, and quite unusual -- "Holy Feculence and Crazy Wisdom" by Doug Smith

Both have my mind wandering while I sit with Julia.

It is a lovely, really, really lovely day outside and she prefers to sit inside and do our work together. I would quite happily take it all outside, but she wanted to be inside. I will be up for this battle -- one worth fighting -- during this summer, but today, I will let her do her work inside and contend myself with a walk that we have put on the schedule for later.

Schedules, schedules, we always have schedules. It might sound cumbersome -- all the schedules -- but Julia finds such comfort in them and we get a good deal done with them. Some written, some just done with our fingers.

So, now she sits drawing in her new Summer Reading Journal after reading a story about princesses not liking camping in her new Highlights for Kids magazine. I think I had a subscription to Highlights for a few years as a kid, so did Cheshire, and now it is perfect for Julia. She really likes finding the hidden objects, so we started there yesterday. Today, it was reading a story and now writing the title and a sentence, and drawing a picture. I think the princess is turning out to be a dinosaur princess.

It is so beautiful outside that as we were driving to church, the thought sprung into my head: David, how could you be missing today? I don't often think of David's death in that way. What? Can I understand him being dead easier during the coldness of winter on a dreary wet day? During this long chilly spring? But today? No.

On Thursday, at the acupuncturist, he told me that he felt that David was very present. I believe him, although for someone who is missing the whole of David, it is very hard to appreciate a bit of him being present.

What I set out to write is how I am feeling about this fallow time.

Fallow just got hard.

The last 11 months have been full of busy-ness. I travelled after David died. I got back from England and set about getting Julia ready for school last August. I plunged into PTO work and into LEND reading. I may have been grieving hard, and that took up time and energy but it was gut work. I could have done that sort of grieving while moving mountains or writing a dissertation or brief writing. The body was engaged in the grieving while my mind was kept busy with other things.

Maybe this is common. Maybe it is not. I have no idea. I must ask someone. I have not read about it in any of the widow books I have. This was my process, however, and just that, neither good or bad, just how I got through the worst of the initial sadness.

By April, I was exhausted with my tasks and ready to think as well as feel the loss. Oh, I am making this orderly and neat, and lord know, there has been nothing neat and orderly about my grieving. Was I exhausted holding back part of the grieving that I had to do? Was I tired trying to accomplish something? Was I tired of just doing the tasks I had set out for myself, dragging my grief along like heavy trunks? I wanted to give up everything immediately and looked forward to this fallow time -- time without tasks and responsibility. It felt like there was a crack in my universe again. I could no longer shoulder responsibility and learning and needed to immerse myself, body and mind, into the grieving, mourning, and healing process.

Again, this sounds like a plan. Thoughtful. And it is not so.

When PTO and LEND finished in May -- just about a month ago now, I proclaimed my freedom from both and swore to stay free of leadership and learning. I almost gleefully took on sorting papers, cleaning the garden, and planning the house renovation -- all would allow me to think, let my mind wander and fall down rabbit holes and deep morasses of pain. This has happened and the self-pity and hurt has been poured out here and to a few friends.

And then, yesterday or the day before, I awoke bereft of purpose. It was almost frightening. Cutting myself off from the tasks that give meaning to my days, from the people who peopled those tasks, I had no identifiable purpose, no reason -- Was I cleaning my house, my body and soul for no reason? I have had purpose and goal since I was in the eighth grade. I clearly remember realizing that there was something that I was always working towards. The goal has changed. Certainly. There was a time when I decided to give up theater and look for something else to do, but at that time, the looking itself became the goal

Caveat here: The easy answer to this is Julia! My girls. Julia and Cheshire. Should I not be living for them? I answer, well, of course. Since I first laid eyes on Cheshire, I have always lived for my children. But I lived for more as well. And it is this more that seems to have suddenly deserted me. No, it did not desert me. I gave it up! I abandoned purpose. I abandoned purpose, no, I did not have any real purpose and abandoned all that I was doing, gave myself to do. Was it all merely busy work? That may be something else to think about.

Today, getting through today, set other wheels inside a turning. Feelings like: loneliness, desolation, abandonment. Questions like: What do I have to live for? Internal moaning like: I am certainly too old to find purpose and/or partner. And why the hell am I planning for anything?! This all jangled inside of me like some orchestra all out of tune, fighting to tune up and failing. And then, during our walk, all went silent. I was present. Walking. Talking to Julia about bugs and the smell of dead fish. Politely greeting other walkers and gardeners taking care of weeds and things.

I was silent inside and content to go back to sorting papers, cleaning my desk, making dinner, and reading Julia a story. I wonder now how many of these bubbles of tumult I will meet. I wonder if living without stated purpose is a goal or a stop along the way. I wonder about the vulnerability of letting go of a need for purpose. I wonder if this is the path to healing.

1 comment:

Marianne said...

Hi Suzanne. Just wondering if the lesson is to live in the NOW, appreciating every moment and attempting to focus at the end of each day on the great things about your life. I know it is hard not to focus on what is lacking, especially missing David so much. You can still acknowledge how much you miss him and the life you shared together, yet also .see this new life as an adventure.

Adopting Julia was something you and David chose to do and you have dealt with the enormous difficulties ( and tremendous joys) that has brought. Losing David was not something you had ay control over, and there only seems to be pain:no silver lining.

Eileen Caddy wrote a book some time after Peter left her for the young American woman he later married. I remember it being excellent and it helped me after my marriage broke up. Losing a husband to death is different but if you still loved him when he left (as Eileen did and I did too) there is still grieving.
Believe me, you will find a purpose for your life. Hang in there and let's face it : what would Julia do without you.You are also still so important to Cheshire,not to mention the future grandchildren.