He knew that under the tall grass of an apparently untamed future
the steel rails of fear and habit were already laid.
What he suddenly could't bear, with every cell in his body,
was to act out the destiny prepared for him by his past,
and slide obediently along those rails,
contemplating bitterly all the routes he would rather have taken.
~ Edward St. Aubyn, Some Hope
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.
I woke this morning with Shirley on my mind and an odd vacant feeling in my spirit. Shirley is a dynamo; exuberant, direct, and when I first met her, she was making a phenomenal recovery from a stroke. I'd heard so much about Shirley prior to meeting her; how she made a difference in the lives of the people she professionally helped. Meeting her was social - over dinner - more than a year ago, shortly after the passing of her son -- who was in his fifties when he died -- from alcoholism. The night we met, I expressed my condolences for her loss, and asked how she was doing. "I'm doing just fine," she said, "my hope is that my son's death helped save someone else." BAM! In that singularly clear statement, she hit me with an empathetic arrow straight to my heart -- a purpose, out of what too often feels like senseless tragedy (read: Reality).
|Birthday Boomer (45) - 2001|
Today would have been Boomer's 60th birthday -- and by social conventions, a milestone birthday of sorts. Yet, it was Shirley and her declaration of purpose-filled hope that I reflected on. I wonder how many lives, in the circling ripples of Boomer's life, have been saved as a result of his own passing -- which for him, was the only possible outcome. It's a difficult truth (read: Bowing).
Experience has taught me there's nothing, neither emotionally nor spiritually healthy, to be gained in relentless pontificating and fantasizing of all the lost possibilities when a loved one dies and every perceived milestone comes around the calendar time and again. However, those milestones can be primary triggers to perpetually reminisce and once-again enshrine the dead, or moreover, highlight your unresolved pain for dramatic effect and resurrected sympathy. I'm not that woman. Though once upon a time, I was. Still as I paid mindful attention to the vacancy of spirit I was feeling, guilt had been doing push-ups all night and seized this opportunity to pounce:
What's wrong with you?
Why don't you feel sorrowful today?
Don't you miss Boomer?
Where's your sense of duty?
Why aren't you reminiscing all over social media -- passive aggressively soliciting sympathy comments full of emoji hearts and hugs?
What if...? What might have been? ...could have been? ... should have been?
Answer me, DAMMIT!!
Guilt is nasty, mean and mischievous. What I've uncovered about myself in the last few years is that I am a bit of a recovering drama addict. Guilt knows this and intentionally feeds on this hidden part of me; it's a part of me that isn't fully eradicated. That hallowed feeling I felt is the space that has been created by fully knowing and achieving the healing balance of what to hold on to and what to let go of -- including Boomer. Chronic emotional strain-and-drain drama are heavy rocks that I've let go of. However, in my multi-faceted humanness I'm not fully immune to the predatory ways of guilt and a day like today is prime meat. And for a while, guilt got me good.
What I realize is that days like today, I sometimes subconsciously resist admitting or accepting - again - that I am OK. This mindset invites the drama addict in. Truthfully, I am beyond OK. I'm pretty terrific. I do not miss Boomer in ways I did not so long ago. That days like today, commemorating a personal sentiment can and have become regular every days. No drama, no fanfare, no embellished emotion required. A quiet fondness is present and I go about my day. Guilt hates that. So does the Drama Addict. But isn't that what healing and recovery is all about? Hell yeah. Guilt and the mindset of a drama addict don't understand this. Too bad. My personal mission to heal and grow beyond the tragedies of heart and of life mean more to me than staying put, or to continually pander for attentive sympathy. For the most part I have and continue to accomplish my mission. Gratefully, I had the wherewithal to phone a friend and talk it through -- quashing the guilt, sending the drama addict back to the gallows. Hopefully, for the last time. You see, of the lives I hope Boomer's death has saved, I believe one of them is my own (read: Maya).
Thank you Boomer. You were never fond of your birthday anyway (read: Free Bird). Suffice it to say, today was a win-win.