I disappeared eight months ago. From life, from friends, from Facebook.
It was intentional. I’ve needed — and still need — a container with hard boundaries of space and time to protect me and process what happened, what’s still happening.
This time away feels like what writer Anne Lamott describes as grace:
“Grace can look like exhaustion.”
I’ve been exhausted. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that Anne was right. Exhaustion has opened a flood of grace in me, humbled me so that I’ve had nowhere else to go but on my knees – literally and in an interior posture of humility to the Divine.
So what’s been happening in my life?
If you’ve followed my blog, you know my dad had a stroke almost six years ago. I’ve been one of his caregivers and it’s been an arduous but loving journey.
Someday I know I’ll look back and wish I could do it again despite the hardships, see dad again, hear his voice again. But dad is in hospice now. I don’t know how long. I just know my heart breaks to see this once vital man shrinking in body size, sleeping more and more, unable to speak.
Then Joe died in April. He was my partner, companion and dear love of 14 years. While I’ve been preparing these past years for dad’s death, I wasn’t prepared for Joe to die. He blindsided me when he left the planet in an instant without so much as a goodbye.
The issues post-Joe have been many and burdensome – clearing out the house of years of accumulated stuff and the sorrow of sifting through his life, hiring contractors to get the house to market, his finances, taxes, estate stuff. I often felt like Sisyphus.
All of this is not meant to sound like a litany of complaints. I write and chronicle what happens in my life in the hope it touches a space somewhere in your soul that is much like mine — in our collective soul.
I’m a messenger, that’s it, and a poor one at that, one who often can’t remember what day it is, who is stumbling through life and despite wishing wisdom in my old age still ponders life, death, purpose. You know. The nagging questions.
And then there’s the abyss of grief.
Author and retreat leader Mirabai Starr, whose 14-year-old daughter died in a car crash writes:
“… I discovered that there was nowhere to hide when radical sorrow unraveled the fabric of my life. I could rage against the terrible unknown—and I did, for I am human and have this vulnerable body, passionate heart, and complicated mind—or I could turn toward the cup, bow to the Cupbearer, and say, ‘Yes.’”
Grief strips us. Exhausts us. But it also opens a space for grace.
So, in the midst of this overwhelming fatigue, grace is teaching me this:
I need to be ever so gentle with myself, with that child within. My warrior-woman has had to fight and claw her way to get everything done these past years with dad’s care and especially these last months in the aftermath of Joe’s death — and I thank her. She was forced to the forefront in ways I never thought possible.
But that Amazon-woman fighter in me wasn’t protecting or listening to the child, the little girl who pleaded:
Rest. Be. Sleep. Breathe.
Like breadcrumbs, I am now placing these pleas for mercy before my days and hours in the hope I find my way back to balance. I don’t know how long that will take. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that I honor both the warrior and the child, that both can find a place in my heart while I heal from so much. That I can be gentle and strong. Live out loud and in silence. That I can be in doubt and faith at the same time.
I’m allowing myself an openness to receive self-love and love from the Divine.
In my deepest moments of heartache and exhaustion, I’ve crawled onto the lap of the Mother-God and rested my head on her shoulder. She simply rocks me. And I allow myself to be rocked.
At times I think I hear her whisper, “I’m here. I’m here.”
And sometimes, when I’m able, I bow to her and whisper, “Yes.”