Sunday, June 24, 2012

waiting for the dawn

Recently, I had the utter privilege of being in a spectacularly beautiful part of the world with a spectacularly beautiful group of people – most of them strangers to me in the beginning. 

One morning we all made our way to an overlook to watch the sunrise.  One of my new friends sent me this picture of our anticipation and it struck me that the grief journey is so much like this. 

We show up.  Each day, we make the effort – often in the dark - to wait and watch for the light, the hope, the gratitude and the new life (wrapped around our sadness) to dawn. The anticipation that is alive in us may feel small, fragile and only barely able to breathe, but it is the seed of healing germinating in us.  Nurture it.  Protect it.  There is an amazing encouragement and strength available in a circle of souls who want and need to do that together.   

So, if you haven’t found a tangible circle of loving hearts to connect with, I encourage you to keep looking for that. One or two others is a start and the mutual way that hearts are held is irreplaceable comfort and nourishment for the journey. 

Til then, let me do that for and with you . . . distance is only an illusion.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Voice in my Heart  

Can you hear me now?   Can you hear me now?
     This repeated question brings a smile, a chuckle and the image of someone wandering about, searching for a cell phone connection – trying desperately, first one place and then another, to get the lines of communication open.  We laugh, but in a serious way this also describes the desperate need bereaved parents have in the panic of losing a child.    
The professionals call this the need for a “continuing bond”.  And they claim that if we do not figure out a way to connect, then grief will be an even more difficult wound to heal. 

     This makes perfect sense to me.  From the moment I heard that our son had died my mind and heart began a frantic clamor for a way to connect to him.  It was entirely impossible to bear that he was gone from us.  There had to be a way.  There had to be a path.  There had to be something that could penetrate this new and awful distance. 

     Slowly, as my panic subsided and the grief journey began in all its intense depth, I learned to pay attention and to listen for his voice in my heart.   At first, it seemed like learning a new language.  My daughter tells me that in her experience of learning new languages there is a time in that process that feels like “no man’s land” – neither the native tongue nor the new language are effective.  The would-be-speaker is caught somewhere between the two. Struggling to communicate with Matt seemed like that.  I thought I had to learn something entirely new and felt lost as to how to do that.   And yet, I knew in my very being that he wasn’t completely gone from me.  Maybe there was a “language” we had had that I had just forgotten.   

     So, I began to try to remember.  It was so easy to recall that warm sense of motherhood from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I immediately and eagerly related to this new life growing inside me.  I was physically wrapped around him, nurturing him, caring for him, carrying him and bringing him into this life to be with us.   I began to realize that that experience does not dissipate at birth.  Instead, it creates an ongoing connection that has an invisible strength.  True, we grow less aware of it once we have the visible and the tangible to delight in.  But, it began to feel possible for me to reach back and rediscover the comfort and trust of that first communication we had.  After he was born and as he grew, I didn’t think much about it any more because I had the touching, the busy-ness of life and all the holding.  But when I was hit with the initial shock and horror of loss, I was blinded by the pervasive, physical emptiness.   The grasping for what I’d depended upon was all I could do at first.  But then, with time, amazing grace and a persistent effort to heal, I remembered that I knew another way.

it is as if I breathe Matt . . . in and out.
His words are the wind blowing in the trees he loved,
          the bird songs he could whistle so perfectly,
          the infinite colors of wildflowers
          and the brilliance of butterflies darting in and out of sight. 
Our conversations are different, but 
          I feel him with me
          and “know” what he is urging me
          to do,
          to be,
          to enjoy. 
It is a stunning thing  
          to let go of the dependence upon the  “outer covering”  
          and relish the radiance of his constant presence.