You know how when you’ve had a cold or a flu and you haven’t been feeling like yourself for a long time? And then one morning you wake up and you’re better and you remember how refreshing and freeing it is to be healthy again. I’m feeling that way, but on the spiritual and emotional levels. For the first time in weeks, I had the experience of feeling like myself again. And…it was wonderful!
Between Dad’s death and the amount of rain and dark skies we’d had, I just hadn’t been myself. I was more contemplative, confused, sad, depressed and angry. Grief, you caught me off guard, showing up in a way I’d never anticipated.
Dad’s health had been failing for a long time, so his death should not have been such a surprise. And because I was a witness to his decline, I ran through several different scenarios in my head over the years, hoping to prepare myself for the inevitable. But being woken by a call from Mom's phone at two o’clock in the morning and hearing a paramedic’s voice on the other end with the news of his passing was a traumatic experience. And heck, I’ve never lost a parent before. It’s all new.
So I’ve been grieving. Those words invoke visions of women in black veils, weeping, sullen and sad. And while there haven’t been any black veils, I’ve had plenty of weeping and sadness (Along with all the other emotions I’ve already mentioned!). And there’s something else- a heaviness that has to do with accepting the hard truth that I, too, will someday die. The kind of thoughts that, up until now, were reserved for late night consideration, when I was way too tired to steer them away. This feeling, like a big, heavy stone in my gut, caught me off guard. It pierced through my strong spiritual beliefs and had me questioning my existence in a way I hadn’t - even during my experience with breast cancer. The thoughts and feelings had never been this heavy. This real.
Suddenly I found myself more aware of my aging skin, all the wrinkles, and the weight my body is holding on to; all signaling a direction towards my own eventual mortality. Grief, you’ve turned my world upside down and inside out. Riding the waves are real, but I hadn’t realized how much you were consuming me…until I woke one morning and found the heaviness had lifted. The waves had carried me to the shore.
Unfortunately, my stay was brief because it wasn’t long before I was back in the waves of grief, having the feels, doing my best to keep my head above water. But here’s the thing: even in those brief moments of relief, I experienced so many gifts.
True, the rain was relentless. But when it cleared, it provided us with remarkable rainbows on several different occasions! I even saw a full rainbow extending from one side of the Valley to the other. One complete, radiant, glowing rainbow, filling the Los Angeles sky. Beautiful.
And then, on a day I was feeling particularly sad, something miraculous happened! My younger son surfaced from his room and led me outside, where he proudly presented a luminescent sky, filled with the colors of a magnificent sunset. My younger son! The one that grunts when I ask him questions, resists showing any emotions, and is all about sports and video games. My heart filled as I inwardly celebrated my gratitude for his awareness of what brings me joy. We stood together in awe of the amazing portrait in the sky that lay before us. What a gift!
So, grief, I’m allowing you your song. I’ll ride your waves and experience you in all your strange manifestations. But I’ll also appreciate those moments when I’ve reached the shore and I can see a glimmer of hope. Those moments will soon turn to hours, days and weeks. And once your song has been sung, there are rainbows and sunsets and all sorts of wonderful gifts and surprises awaiting me. Because the truth is…
Life is good.
In loving, Sarah