I think I was brave. Something beautiful grew inside me, and I did not say no. Me and Beth know how big was the risk, how scared I really was, and how steep the fall turned out to be, and unforeseen.
But you aren’t brave so you can have something.
You are brave because you are. And when the time comes, you will be brave again. You will. There is only one way, and that is to grow.
As it turns out, still crying quite a bit. But also, tulips and the sky-blue-willow world.
I say this not to comfort you, but because I needed to live without these tears for a very long time – so I want to reassure myself that there is no reason to overcome them. And my world is not better without them.
I added a song to the playlist. We can just let John Hiatt take care of the rest.
I took my walk at the botanic gardens, in my furry hat and make-do winter gear, which consists of a thrifted leather coat (windproof) over the free warm up jacket that came with my job (layer). I look ridiculous but I’m warm enough to wander the red willow hedges and glimmering tall grasses, and spin the garden kaleidoscope as long as I want to. The gardens are one of those public homes where my belonging cannot be revoked – regardless of how my private living arrangements are re-shuffled. Barbara loved the botanic gardens, holding forth on its wonders as she pieced her way, brick by brick, to the bench that was as far as she could go without a rest. It’s one of the places we shared, where I can always find both her and myself, even as time passes.
Taking those familiar turns – the aspen-lined path along Starkweather Creek, the quiet edge of the back-40, sheltered by low hanging branches of white pine, snow collected in their long, soft needles – it sank in how many homes I have lost this year. Not only the address where I lived, but the hope of buying my own place. And the place I trusted as dear and certain as my bones – where over and over, I found safe landing from the exhaustion of loneliness – isn’t sending out its beacon anymore. Not to mention my particular corner of our human home: the world of faces and breath and the common sanity of protecting our fellow travelers. Each turned over into nothing I ever imagined, nothing I ever meant to look for or find.
I’ve almost stopped crying every day. Although yesterday I did a writing exercise that unexpectedly made me so, so sad I cried for an hour – but before that I didn’t cry the whole day. And I only cried a little today.
I take this as a sign the tears are almost done with their work. I think their work is to help me land where I am. To reconnect the neglected places back to the current of hearbeats and self awareness, circulating with fresh rain. To remake the map of tributaries, now free to run to the ocean.
It was always an illusion to think we could see forward into life, with our resolutions and intentions aimed at the straw man of the same, familiar troubles. The only approach I can think of now is to be open. Not open to the silver lining, or sour jolts of truth. Just open to the next thing. That seems like the simplest way to keep going.
I put out the Santas and the tinsel tree, and bought flowers on Christmas Eve. I found some music on the radio, and stayed off Instagram. There was a floor lamp at the thrift store, exactly what I wanted. My friend brought over cherries and cold, rare roast beef – and went home in fog that only Rudolph could navigate. With just 12 minutes to spare, I drove to the store for a couple of things I forgot. The streets were empty. And then, like everyone, I was heading home.
The roses bloomed on Christmas, just as I hoped, and the clear blue sky chased the fog away. Santa came. He always does. My people made sure of me, and the boys got their stocking stuffers and money. By eight p.m., it was over. Together, Santa and I let out a sigh of profound relief – and climbed into bed for our long, winter’s nap.
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. – Clement Moore
We need the funk. – George Clinton
Flowers dried from other Sundays, because the delivery truck was so late Saturday morning, there were no fresh flowers when I went shopping. But the greenery sent it’s fragrant tendrils into the past, and gathered my little fragments of Christmas into a portal of memory and time.
I suppose I am getting accustomed to all the uncertainties – since I can’t let them go. I told the close people how lonely I am, and they have helped make it better. I accept that maybe I won’t stop crying for a while. I had my heart set on so many hopes. At least I got hurt from dreaming. I didn’t think I could do that anymore.
But the soundtrack on Sundays is the funk. And as long as you make my funk the P-funk, the desired effect is what you get. Just be thankful for what you got. Let me put my sunglasses on.
I couldn’t help falling in love, and I can’t help the loneliness I feel now – feel as a result of my heartbreak, though the loneliness was swelling inside, untended from long ago. Probably lurking in my heart since the first time some parent or teacher declared something was wrong with me, and pointed out that I didn’t fit in.
While I was married, it was vital to pretend to myself that I wasn’t lonely, so I could keep imagining that things would still work out. Because being with someone was supposed to solve being lonely. I mean, how utterly broken and screwed up must I be, to feel lonely with someone who was supposed to love me? That’s how I slipped into denial – building a hard, impenetrable barrier between me and loneliness just by looking the other way.
But along with actually feeling love, and feeling desired, and then the physical pain of losing that future, the companion of loneliness returned. Feeling no heart is attached to yours, knowing there is no one asking themselves how you are doing that day. Knowing that some part of you – the deepest part that feels most like yourself – doesn’t exist for anyone else anymore. Lonely.
Denying my loneliness, cutting it off from my self, was part of how I misunderstood the kind of love I had a right to hope for. Loneliness hurts, but I can’t go back to the emptiness of pretending, either.
Failure, disappointment, heartbreak, loneliness. My little plateful of broken dreams. If I don’t tend them, who else will?
This was not the life I expected, or thought I was making. I have heard of plans and goals, yes. But no matter what attainment you covet, I think you only know afterwards what you’ve made. When it’s too late to discover anything besides the forces you couldn’t see at the time. Your own darkness, unquestionably. But also the persistent shape of yearning and fulfillment – and that old devil, Hope.
Life is what I’ve done. What I’ve made, is all told mainly by the losses.
To have love rejected. There really isn’t any other wound.
I’m just very sad, you see. Everything is okay, except for all the scary things I can’t do anything about. I suppose those worries have me tied up in knots somehow, but that is where denial comes in handy. Not that you aren’t affected by the monsters looming in the everyday. You are, of course. But you believe your own pretending – so that’s alright. You can keep going in your lopsided, circuitous way, wearing avoidance-colored glasses.
But this loneliness is a silence that’s been there a very, very long time. And for a minute, I really thought I heard a voice, another voice – so close, I felt the breath warm my ear and send goose bumps through every limb. I was wrong, as it happens – but the echo is like a sonar that has detected the depth of the silence that was there all along. Which is something I have to reckon on my own – a fact that in itself reflects the situation I’m in.
So, Flowers on Sunday – I’m just very sad, you see.
Well, I am just especially thankful for every listening ear that has even tried to understand. I didn’t realize until lately how much I wasn’t telling – because I didn’t know myself how much I had turned away from the life inside. And I don’t try to tell everyone. And I have told a few people and it wasn’t for them – and really, that’s fine. I’ve been in those shoes, too.
My heart still feels broken, and I think it will have to mend into a different shape – a shape it didn’t have before I tumbled into love and kept falling. That sadness is so deep, and very, very old. Much older than me. Older even than Marv and Barbara. I doubt I will ever know where it started.
And yet, how can I even say how fortunate I feel? To know that beyond this loneliness, a web of loving voices – connected and strong – knows the way I am, already. To have the winter light, and roses to give it form and purpose. To search for a way the unknown heart can begin her life anew.