Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Elephant Has Left the Building

Yesterday left me gasping for air.

It's ironic that it felt that way, because seven years ago yesterday had me feeling that there was no air to breathe.

You see, yesterday, I completely forgot about seven years ago yesterday. The significance of the day didn't even occur to me until late in the afternoon, at which point I took in a deep breath and thought, "Well, I'll be damned!" I did that with a smile on my face.

Now you're giving me that look like I forgot to wear my pants again. I'm sorry. I didn't realize this was a nice restaurant.

Okay, really. Yesterday, I got up, had copious cups of coffee, did a little online shopping, joked around with friends on Facebook, laughed a bunch, checked my email, did some writing, did some chores, put on some chili to simmer for dinner, and worked on a project. During all those things, over the course of about 8 hours, not once did it occur to me that the day was significant. And it was. It is.

It was seven years ago that my much loved mate, John, passed away after a very short battle with cancer. In each year since, when May 7th rolls around, I'm always acutely aware of the day and the resounding clang of sorrow that always tolls. Except for yesterday. I was aware that it was May 7th, but the number didn't trigger anything. I didn't at all stop to consider.

When it did finally dawn on me, I had a moment of, "Geez, woman... how could you forget? Have you gone cold?" No. No, I haven't. Not in the least. What's happened is that I've undergone some tremendous healing in the past few months. I attribute that healing to writing.

Funny thing is, I haven't been writing about John, or my experience with him, or my experience after him. I've been writing fiction (you know I'm writing a book, yeah?). However, I've been writing fiction that comes from a well that is deeper than I initially suspected. Way deeper. So deep. Fathoms. In doing all that writing, in giving my characters voice, I've been able to give voice to so many things that I'd kept hidden. Hidden is probably the wrong word, because are you really hiding something if you're not aware of its existence? Or, at least, the level on which it exists?

Writing, even writing about unrelated stuff, has freed me - not from memories, but from my own unwillingness and fear to confront those memories, as well as from the need to repress them. These fictitious people that I'm getting to know have taught me a lot about forgiveness, letting go, facing the mirror, loving. Sure, they're all things I've been learning anyway, but somehow creating them in a different scope of existence (in fiction) gives them clarity and credence.

I haven't forgotten about John. I couldn't ever love him any less. But the pain is a soft pain... a dull, barely perceptible ache somewhere in the vicinity of my left rib cage. I've come to a point where I would much rather celebrate and write the 46 years of his life into something tangible than to be grieving for the day he died.

I think he understands that.

I think he's pleased.

"Live and love," he always said. "Just live and love."

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful and poignant write. I too have felt that writing helps me release so much inside that needs to get out...and when it is "out there"...living and loving is easier.

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  2. Fabulous! And thank you. I've been wanting to write a book for so long (other than the one I'm already working on) but have been afraid for it will reveal my deep vulnerability. And you've given me the gift of realizing that I can get my message out in writing my accounts as fictional tales instead. I had never given that a thought when it pertains to this particular book idea. So thank you! Beautiful post. You're healing and I'm sure that John is pleased. More than pleased. Bravo Barb!

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    1. Thanks, Michele! I can't wait to read THAT book. :-)

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  3. It took years to forget the date of my first husbands passing but when I did, I rejoiced...I was finally at peace.

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  4. I love how you live, Barb and I love how you love.
    Another super piece.
    Thank-you for stretching and opening that well of wonder that you are.
    Warm hugs.

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    1. Likewise, Ms. J! And a bucket of heart/smile back at you. Mwah.

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  5. Excellent! Just when we think that pain is incurable...it subsides . Then we move forward and live again. It never means we forget or love less. We just love differently. Anyone who has love and lost truly understands. Congrats on your accomplishments.

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  6. Lovely. I have to agree. Writing is such a release, too. I read that somewhere, but I don't remember. Some psychiatrists will prescribe journaling instead of pills. Not sure where I read it. Some study of something, lol. I read too much of that to remember anything but the points.

    I'm glad that writing has helped you so much. :)

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  7. March 6 for me - Mom. Challenging relationship. This year was rough, but last year, last year was okay. The day didn't pass without notice, but it did pass without malaise. We heal if we allow ourselves to heal. Writing and photography, and my choir, they have all helped me find a way to express that I couldn't otherwise.

    Mother's Day is still hard, maybe because it's always so close to my own birthday, but even that is getting easier.

    Creative pursuits can be healing, absolutely true.

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  8. You need to have an I Loved It reaction button because I would have clicked it as many times as I could. So so poignant and beautifully written. Indeed--how can you be hiding from something you know that exists on a very deep level? I believe you landed on one of the key ways to work through those deep levels and that is to write. You don't always need a spotlight on what's there. Sometimes, all you need is the soft glow of a candle flame and just write. Somehow, someway, it all gets connected and I'm so happy for you for the place where you're at now. It's a bittersweet spot for sure but I can still feel the love you have for John AND for yourself in this post.

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    1. Thank you so much, my friend. Here's to wombats and revealing what's hidden! :-)

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  9. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my dad's death in 1980. I had forgotten until I read your post about John. He was an Army Helicopter Pilot; I always smile and say a hello to dad when I see a helicopter in the air. And at times a sound or smell will squeeze my heart with missing him. Sorry about rambling...just... I understand about John.

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  10. Bravo, Barb! Wondering, why not a new version or versions of the original meme's quote, as well? Illustrated with the industries that would be affected? Or maybe just with portraits of various real women smiling.

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  11. Hmm...I think I posted to the wrong dang article. :-\

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    1. Hah! That's okay, Timo... it was so nice to "hear" from you, regardless! Send me an email or something... been a very long time!

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