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Navigating the gap.

 

 

 

 

Pema Chödrön often mentions “the gap” in her dharma teachings. It is something that takes us out of our everyday mind and into spaciousness.  The gap can be many things, a sudden startle, a trip, a sneeze.  Anything that snaps us out of everyday mind and into a moment of openness.  Our thinking mind stops for a moment and is empty.  It is brief, usually, this kind of gap.

Change is also a gap, whether positive or negative change.  Everything is fresh when it is positive change, our hearts are lifted and all of our senses attenuated.  The world is a wonder.  We are energized, our bodies feel light and movement seems effortless. Negative change, with the associated grief, is a different experience.  Food loses its taste, scents seem absent, raising your arms and legs can feel almost impossible.  Fatigue without restorative rest becomes the norm.

We all face gaps.  They are innumerable when you start noticing them.  Learning to live comfortably with gaps is a constant practice because by their nature they challenges us.  Relaxing into not knowing can be frightening.  We like plans, we like knowing what to expect.  It is comfortable to know what lies ahead.  In reality though, we only have this moment, this breath and while we predict (with varying degrees of accuracy) what will come next, the very unpredictability of life is what adds to its richness, its complexity.

Even as I mourn the first year without my son, the return of bird songs not heard in months fills the dark morning.  Another gap, a surprise, a change.  Grief adds deep meaning to life.  Loss is a reminder of how precious each moment of our brief life is.

Years of preparation could not prepare me for the magnitude of Dan’s loss.  It often feels unendurable, this gap.  Without a map, and with only my broken heart for a compass, I must navigate this terrain so rich with beautiful memories and so empty of his physical presence.

May I find strength and grace as I stumble over briars, and look tenderly upon the delicate young blooms that are all a part of this.  May I find the courage to navigate this gap in order to help others.  May the deep, endless love for my darling Daniel, provide me with the compassion and understanding to serve others.

 

Going on

I work the shift,

I work the stove and cook,

I email, and give kudos,

And all the while I miss you.

I weep on my walks with Odie.

Such beauty, such tragedy.

Wanting to believe,

In some supernatural being,

Who oversees it all.

But it is just the Ides of March,

The confusion of new seasons,

Not experienced before.

Is forgetting therapy?

When you love those with

A plate already so full.

Every psych patient knows

To reach out.

But really, how does it figure?

In the grand scheme of things?

We all know what we should do

But does it really matter?

“Yes” our therapists would tell us,

But, the pain seems so immense.

Think of your children,

Not yourself, because they matter too.

And they did not ask the tacit question,

They were just brought into being.

Find strength from their search for meaning.

What else is there?

Beautiful Words

I am out of beautiful words.

The pain of missing you weighs heavily on me,

and I cannot sleep.

Nightmares of you, lost or in need,

tear at my mind and heart,

waking me in a cold sweat, afraid to fall asleep again.

Where are you?

Should I look toward the stars? In nature?

How can it be that I will never hold your hand again?

Everything hurts and there is no remedy.

You were, you are, a part of me.

But you are gone,

and I am still here.

Here, but no longer whole.

Drafts

This blog is full of drafts;

half-formed ideas, memories,

all trying to explain to myself,

how any of this makes sense.

I don’t have the words to this,

for this unexpected life;

the mystery that brought you,

and the mystery that took you from me.

How your great-grandma walked

for miles, mourning her son,

and now I do the same.

How everything she did after he died,

was touched with her sadness,

and the tired grace of a woman

worn out by sorrow.

As everything I do now is

touched with my sadness,

and the tired grace of a woman

who fought hard for you,

who somehow believes you know

and forgive her for her frailty.

 

Dreaming Dan

 

 

 

I dreamed of you again last night.

You were a just a boy,

eyes bright with promise,

and hope.

I hugged your small body to mine,

then held you out with my hands to look at you,

to take in all that I can no longer see

in my waking life.

I told you how much I miss you,

and asked when I could see you again.

You did not answer,

You just smiled at me with that

impish grin I know so well,

and my heart swelled full

with all the love I feel for you,

and the fathomless gratitude,

for the grace that twined our lives together.

It is you

 

It is  rage,

Smothering, choking;

It is  night,

Drawing down light;

It is fear,

Haunting empty hours;

It is loss,

Permeating every moment;

It is  suffering,

Seared into memory;

It is tears,

Tasted on the cheek;

It is words,

Wept and sung;

It is moments,

Clung together;

It is setbacks;

It is hope;

It is resilience;

It is time.

Precious, precious time.

It is you:

Teaching me,

Trusting me,

Forgiving me,

Loving me.

It is you,

and it is you,

and it is you.

Last Rites

You lay before me, so still

Skin pallid, and lips the blue of twilight.

Your face inaminate,

No quirked eyebrow or mischievous smile.

Your absence is still incomprehensible

In the light of this terrible morning.

I kiss your cool forehead,

Thinking of the trials and turmoil,

Of  this path of pain we travelled together.

When everyone left, it was always you and I who remained,

to weather the storms of illness, or some new loss from your traitorous genes.

And here we are again my love.

I always said I would do anything for you,

From love, and for steadfast presence in all the difficult moments.

So I begin this, knowing only that it is a testament

Of my love for you.

Slowly, I bend to reach the basin,

Warm, soapy water slipping through my trembling fingers.

Washing your skin, tenderly, touching every scar.

Removing the tracheostomy tube, and the g-tube you hated so much

Wanting every artificial adjunct to your life

Out of your tortured body.

I would not, could not leave you now,

In these last moments together, that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I will know that we had this time,

That I held you once again, as I did on that morning 20 years ago,

When we were still innocent and unknowing,

And our joy was untouched by sorrow.

Torn

Maybe if you are very sensitive,

Mourning must tear you apart,

And fling the pieces far away,

Leaving you broken for a time,

Difficult, defensive, vulnerable, fragile,

Until enough time passes

for the ground of your being to

Become fertile again in darkness,

To draw its’ precious nutrients into your heart,

To fill your empty breasts that still ache with remembrance,

So that you may start to rise,

To stand, tenuously at first,

Then stronger,

To take the first steps on the path,

To find yourself again.

The Empty Well

Grief is an empty well,

where the voice of the beloved echoes

but cannot be answered.

Grief is the silent sky,

after lightening cracks open the heavens,

and thunder shakes the earth.

Grief is grasping,

for something you can no longer hold,

that is just out of reach.

Grief is heavy,

austere and grim as a Puritan zealot,

who sees joy as sin.

Grief, harsh teacher, bitter companion,

who steals the treasure of hope,

who must be endured, the consequence of immeasurable love.

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For Dan

I don’t know how to say goodbye to you my dearest

and I don’t know how to greet a life without you.

Dew fogs the grass as the pink light of sunrise

floods through the windows.

I listen for the sounds of you in this still morning

the quiet of your absence surrounding me.

You are everywhere and nowhere,

waiting in still and silent moments, patient with the

futile busyness that keeps my pain at bay.

My sweet and gentle boy,

how we laughed and cried together at the absurdities

and cruelties of your life,

and at the frailties of your human keepers.

In weaker moments I beg you to return to me,

selfish, I know my darling, to ask

knowing the brutality of your final days with us,

the torment and tumult of those precious hours.

And still, you come to me, like a breath, like a pulse,

as the sighs and tears move through me

and I remember how you protected me

your facile, fragile mother,

and let me sleep beside you, let me hold you one last time

in the clinical light of the hospital monitors.

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