Where I am

My eldest son and I had a talk this morning. It’s been a month since their father died–a month filled with turmoil and agony of losing someone you love so unexpectedly. There are not enough words to speak of it. That I was able to go through the motions of living–that I was able to go to eschacon–that I was able to still keep my children fed –these are things that happened, not because I was strong, but they happened inspite of my weakness. In all these things, I have been constantly upheld by the strength that was offered to me and I am thankful for that.

Looking back is like gazing at the remains of a storm. In a split second, our lives fell apart. Everything that was known and familiar changed.

I said to my sister, I got through the funeral and stayed strong because I had to. There was no one else who could do that for me. I got through and we brought my husband to his final rest in a fitting manner.

Afterwards, in the aftermath of the storm, I felt bereft. Adrift and lost. Filled with grief and agony and not knowing how to deal with the intensity of these emotions.

I fell apart, I said to my son.

But now, you’re being assembled again, my son quips.

It sounds funny, but it’s true. Looking at the chaos of us, I realized that I couldn’t allow it to go on like this for much longer. I couldn’t let my children fall into the abyss of despair.

Everything starts with structure. It costs effort. I reminded myself that I’m a big girl now. As tempting as it is to escape–to run away–to hide from the facts of life, I must face them.

We lost someone we loved and for a while, we lost ourselves.

Today, the ground under my feet feels more solid. My head is clearer. I know it won’t be easy. I know it will be a challenge. But I am here. We’ll be okay.

To remember joy

Meeting up with friends and writers at Eschacon has done me good. I left the house for the first time and went and met people and was able to make it through without turning into a watering pot. For this, I am grateful to dear friends who sustain me and remind me that I am alive and that there is joy in living.

My youngest son tells me of a film they watched at school.

Mees Kees lost his father, my youngest son says. And his mother crawled into bed and couldn’t find joy in anything anymore.

My youngest son is completely out of sorts. He complains of pain. He says he is ill. He worries that his presence at school will make other children sad.

My heart aches for the child who wants his father–who cannot put into words the pain of that absence.

I am still here, I say to my son. I am not that mother.

Remembrance isn’t easy and I recognize how finding and creating moments of joy are a necessity if I am to survive. I think of the work that is at hand–of the books I want to write and the stories I want to tell. I think of friendships made, of bonds forged and of the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

Life must continue. The work must go on. There is still love in the world and hope. I keep my eyes on the goal I set before me and remind myself that this season of mourning will also pass.

I understand how it is possible to die of a broken heart, but I also know that love heals what is broken. I have been given a gift of strength, strong hands that lift me up and remind me that life is worth living and joy can be found with a little bit more effort.

I will not squander the gifts I have been given.  Like all good travelers, I will allow my path to be lighted by the memory of joy.