Time does restore to us our quiet joy in the spiritual presence of those we love,
so that we learn to remember without pain,
and to speak without choking up with tears.
But all our lives we will be subject to sudden small reminders
which will bring all the old loss back overwhelmingly.
~ Elizabeth Watson
Retrieving the mail, I was deep in thought. I hadn't slept well the previous three nights, a dull queasy feeling had relentlessly been stirring in the base of my abdomen for a couple of weeks, and I was getting ready to host my first holiday celebration in four years.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? For auld lang syne, my dear, or as I like to think, flashback forward.
Last year, 2013, was the first Christmas I'd put up a tree in three years. That, in and of itself, was a milestone. One year after losing Boomer, two years in Florida, and a major accomplishment in moving on through bereavement - - no easy feat. As I unwrapped each ornament that resembled a part of our history together, I reminisced over every event and it's correlating Christmas. I payed extra mindful, attentive care to the strategic placing of each ornament on the tree, like our named ceramic coffee mugs (image right), ensuring prime viewing from every possible angle I might see them. While last years' tree resembled a surrogate memorial shrine to Boomer, it was also a historical Christmas of beginning to consider making new holiday memories, on my own, far away from the people I've celebrated with and love the most. That's what I did, I jumped on plane and flew to Michigan to surprise my daughter. It was the BEST Christmas EVER! Boomer nudged me into it, reminding me of all the choices he'd made that missed memory-making and fostered some of his heartache.
This year, only the "Shannon" mug went on the tree, Boomer's mug was placed in the dedicated memory box I keep of him. The remaining symbolic ornaments were clustered together in a denoted section of the tree in fond remembrance, without the pain nor tears. Time was indeed restoring a quiet joy.
Laying out the mail on the dining table, along with Marie Claire and Elle, a new magazine appeared -- Wings of Hope, a publication from Hope Healthcare Services**. As I randomly thumbed through I was paralyzed on page 29, overwhelming brought back, suddenly seeing a series of photos of Boomer and me. I gasped, broke out in tears and began to hyperventilate. I gave the interview for a story on managing grief and the Healing Hearts bereavement services offered through Hope Hospice/ Hope Healthcare Services last October, 2013. Over a year had passed, I had totally forgotten about doing the interview, thinking it was probably editorially bumped. So not so. A two-page full-color spread. E-gads!
The initial shock of seeing our photos outside the confines of this blog and my personal albums threw me. Then the stark reality of the spanning time, 1997, 2005, and 2008, all now history and representing a life seemingly so far removed even in the short 14 months since the interview was conducted. I didn't expect it, temporarily feeling blindsided - - again (read: P.T.S.D.). Then I sat with how dramatically different everything is today and how immeasurably relieved and grateful I am that it is (read: Fly). Truth that even feelings of relief and gratitude will trigger heart-felt emotion and a grief spurt. Go figure. Next came an awkward sensation of seeing my mug, my story, my experience laid out for all to read, and optimally gain hope, strength, and courage from. It felt bigger and broader than my small limited sphere of influence - - friends and family. It's both humbling and an honor. It's a wonderful piece, if I do say so and I'm really grateful at how generous the editors at Hope were in telling my story. Little was held back. It's getting circulation, people are seeing it and telling me about it - - that's a weird experience too. Again I'm humbled and grateful.
The moral here is hope. There is hope - - and proof - - that while there is tragic loss, immense heartbreak, pain and suffering, hope lives. Life lives - - for those willing to make it true for themselves. I am proof. And now there's proof others thinks so too. It's not all just a fantasy living in my head. Winding down the third holiday season without Boomer, a flashback was presented in print, a visual illustration from the outside, the hope in how far forward I've come. My hope is to continue doing so. Isn't that what we all strive for? Forward motion. A little flashback now and again isn't all bad; consider it revealing proof.
If we devote ourselves to the life at hand, the rest will follow.
For life, it seems, reveals itself through those willing to live.
Anything else, no matter how beautiful, is just advertising.
~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
**Presently the article is not available online. If you'd like to receive it and are outside the SW Florida area, drop me a note, I'll gladly send you a pdf.