Grief is such a bastard. It looms up from nowhere, at unanticipated moments, and floors you.
Last night, my writing group met for the first time this year. We meet in members’ homes, and last night’s meeting was only a suburb away from where I live.
I’ve not been able to go out at night (or anytime past lunchtime, really) since the stroke. But … several weeks ago — perhaps it was late last year, or early January — I noticed a subtle lift in my stamina. After a week or so, I felt quietly optimistic that I’d moved into a new phase. And I made tentative plans to attend the February writing group meeting.
When my stamina receded after about ten days, my usual philosophical outlook took a bit of a battering. It’s been an effort to maintain emotional equilibrium and an optimistic approach to life. My daily writing of morning pages, and my daily morning walk — along with the ongoing love and support of dear family and friends, and my decades of spiritual practice — have been my salvation.
I guess the wave of grief I felt last night should not have come as a surprise. The deep sadness and sense of loss, the teariness, the urge to scream and thrash out at whatever or whomever was nearby. My pain poured into my private writings this morning, and at the end of a page of ranting I arrived at a weary resolve to offer my grief to the elements as I walked the leafy streets. I went out fairly early, before the heat of the day.
And within a few steps, I felt nature’s gentle, healing response all around me.
The pain and grief isn’t purely personal — I understand that now. The imbalance and harshness in the world have weighed on me lately: the impossible struggle of refugees, of children so poor that they cannot afford to go to school, of people living in war-torn countries where violent death has long been a daily reality, of those living with major disabilities or illness; the greed and denial of so many people living in privileged countries, consuming voraciously as the world warms and we rip up the earth and slaughter animals en masse for food, insisting on an arrogant disregard for natural balance.
Yet I understand, too, that every thought and action contributes in some small way to the balance of light and dark in the world. And this understanding guides me to seek gentle ways in which I can make a small, positive difference.
Writing is a powerful tool. And one that I’m still able to wield. The intensity of my grief has subsided, although I still feel its bruised aftermath. But now, having felt and acknowledged the pain, and allowed it to express itself, I will lift my gaze skywards, and focus on peace rather than pain. I will let life’s simple pleasures soothe my soul.
soft golden sunlight
bathes my tear-wearied face — peace
settles in my soul