There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. – Louis L’Amour
When you learn someone is dying, you begin to grieve right away. Right after the initial shock wears off. You begin right then to let them go, a little at a time.
For that is how you survive. Then you remind yourself that everyone dies. Some day. Some just know when and others do not.
meet the inevitable end of things, and how we will greet each new
beginning.”― Elana K. Arnold
When my dog died in 2006, I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying. And then on the heels of that death, my best friend died too. I fought and raged because, I didn’t know how I could bear losing both of them so close together.
Just after my friend died, I found out my then husband was keeping many secrets from me. I remember that that was yet another shock.
When you live with someone, see them everyday, you don’t realize that they might have a whole other life separate from you.
That too is a death. The death of trust. It is a painful pill to swallow.
I cry every time I think about all this. It is as though it were yesterday, and not eight years ago. I tell myself I’ve grieved it through. That I’ve wrung the rag dry.
But then there will be a reminder and it’s like a punch in the gut, and the flood gates open yet again.
Losing someone is the absence of their being. Losing them to death is one way. There are lots of ways in which to lose someone.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean
People meet and fall in love. They think it will be forever. They are star-struck. There is a new bounce to their step, a twinkle in their eye. The feeling is so joyous it fills them up. It carries them like a buoyant balloon, light as air.
But then people fall out of love too. And that is a whole different loss. You look at that person you fell so hard for, and they look the same. But somehow, in your heart of hearts, they are not.
Something has died within you. The balloon burst and drifted to the ground.
You want to walk back through the years, step by step, following the trail, until you find that deep as a river love just beyond a curve in the road.
Beyond a hill. Across the water. You loved them once. They said they loved you.
Where did it go?
It seems incomprehensible. It was everything you ever wanted. And then it just faded away. Like twilight fades into nightfall.
You can’t bring it back. It is a bell that has already rung, and everyone knows you can’t unring a bell. You know it, but you fight it. And then when you accept the inevitable, you have to grieve that loss too.
These things, you cannot stop from happening. You cannot block the road. You cannot go back and start over. It is the end of the line. You don’t want to step over it. For to do so is to put a period at the end of the sentence.
It is a fact of life that people meet, fall in love. That things change, and they fall out of love. It isn’t pleasant for either party. It is a death of something that was once so viable, so sturdy it braved the worst of winds.
I feel safer than I’ve ever felt in this little house with my dogs. I am happy. And I’m content. And sometimes feeling safe is the most joyous feeling on earth.
It is my port in the storm. And that means the world to me.
And then there’s this. For months I’ve felt this unshakable confusion. Words escape me. Not hard words. Simple words. Common nouns. I will look at it, but I can’t grab hold of what it is called.
When I’m out and about, and people are walking past and phones are ringing, I begin to feel a bit frantic. I don’t seem to have a filter for the outside world anymore.
Sometimes I think I survived the war, just to lose myself in the shadows. That I clung to survival and fought the fight and all my senses were awake most of the time for a very long time.
And now, I am not afraid any longer. And the awareness and the vigilance has waned, only to leave me with…this feeling that won’t go away. This sadness that creeps up and puts a rock in my throat.
Last week I finally got in to see a doctor. We talked about my ankle. He said that what happened, it was a freakish accident.
He said they usually see these types of injuries when someone falls out of a window from two or three stories. Or is in a bad car accident.
He told me I’d probably be wearing a brace on my ankle for the rest of my life. That these things heal. But the damage is done.
That rock came up in my throat. I didn’t want to hear anymore. I wanted to go back to July 8, 2012, and start the day over again. Oddly I remember so much about that day. The day before.
I recall going into an Ace Hardware. I recall what I purchased. Something for scratches in the floors. I was happy that day. I felt like spreading it around. I told my daughter and her husband to bring me the kids and for them to go eat dinner together.
I stopped at Braums and bought two kinds of ice cream I thought they’d like. One was chocolate almond and the other had cherries in it. I remember driving home, thinking how we’d be together, my grandchildren and I, and sit eating ice cream.
And then the next day came. And I fixed a sandwich. Out of the corner of my eye, through the back kitchen window, I glimpsed something purple. I stopped what I was doing and walked out to the porch.
I saw the first morning glory bloom. I remember smiling. I love those first blooms. How they open up and everything seems possible.
It was the moment before everything changed. I had my camera around my neck. I went down the porch steps and took about two steps and fell.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion.
I know it could be much worse. I know this isn’t the end of the world. There are people who have so much more to bear.
But as we all know, pain is relative. We feel our own uniquely. It sits on top of our heart and radiates outward. We feel it acutely.
What I miss is just taking my camera and walking blocks and blocks. In every direction. Finding things to photograph. Seeing little rabbits run under houses. Mourning doves land right in front of me and do their funny little walk.
I’m still planning on walking around that block I’ve talked about for so long. Maybe not now. Maybe not tomorrow.
But I will see the sun set from another angle. I will talk to neighbors in their yards again. I will.
This is the second winter, and the wind is blowing the now bare branches to and fro. The sky has been a purplish-pink all day. The leaves, they have given up the fight clinging to the trees and have fallen. Dusk is settling in.
“I often sit and watch the leaves change color and fall from the tree. To me, those leaves signify the constant change in our own lives and all the beautiful colors signify our own emotions. As the leaves change and fall from the trees with such grace and gentleness, they’re reminding us to be gentle with ourselves as this chapter ends. And the next journey begins in our lives.”