What do you see? Maybe all three?
Please weigh in with your comments below.
The photo below is extremely fuzzy. I only had my phone with me, when what I really needed was my good camera with the telephoto lens attached. The photo that I was able to take showed this egret as a mere speck in the picture. By the time I had enlarged it enough to actually be able to see the bird and its reflection in the water, everything was terribly out of focus. But I love the photo, and decided to use it anyway because two things occurred to me.
1. I am a perfectionist. I have to constantly remind myself that rarely do we achieve perfection in what we do. “Good enough” is also beautiful.
2. During intense grief, everything inside and outside your head feels out of focus except the grief. Your brain can barely process what you see and hear from the outside world. Even the thoughts inside your head are totally jumbled and you feel incapable of rational thought. (Which you more or less are, actually.) Thankfully, after my husband’s death, both the hospice workers and friends who had been through this themselves told me that all this was normal. Even though that period of constant intense grieving is mostly gone, there are still moments, or days, or sometimes several days when missing him overwhelms me, and everything else in the world feels off kilter and fuzzy.
I decided that this picture, imperfectly capturing beauty, could be a touchstone for me. A reminder to not judge myself too harshly. And a reminder especially to have some compassion for that part of me that still grieves.
Almost 7 months to the day since my husband died, I am finding that a sense of peace often settles over me. I’m not saying that there is not still grief, or that I don’t still miss him. There is, and I still do. But I am finding that as time goes by, I am remembering more and more often our many decades together when he was not sick, and remembering less the awfulness of the illnesses that preceded his dying.
Last night I went with two friends to a small concert venue to hear an evening of music written by Schubert. As an Austrian composer of the late 18th and early 19th century, he was unusual in that he not only composed music for small and large orchestra, but also wrote transcendently beautiful art songs for voice. Saturday was an evening of both.
I am fortunate. Much of music speaks directly to my soul. It bypasses my analytical brain and goes straight to my heart and fills me with a sense of peace and beauty. Sometimes it feels as if the music inhabits me and I sense little boundary between me and it.
Such was last night, and I realized, not for the first time, that the intense grief of my husband’s death has continued to lessen, giving me space to exist in the world. Such is the grace of time, I think, and love. As I sat there fully present in the music, I realized that this is exactly what he would want for me. He would not want me to stop living after his death, but rather fully embrace life for the both of us.
It’s been six months since I’ve posted, and I’ve been reluctant to dive back in because I haven’t known how regularly I’d be able to post. The process of getting our house ready to sell with repairs and what-not, drastically downsizing, deciding on the small number of things to keep, then donating/selling/giving away 90% of our possessions, actually putting our house on the market, then packing, and moving 500 miles into a small apartment in a retirement community dug me into an exhaustion hole so deep that it took me two months of sleeping almost non-stop before I felt half way human again.
But here we are, my husband and I, relocated, happy, and mostly sorted. Although there are still a sizable number of boxes on the balcony yet to be unpacked, and some disorder within the apartment that we are trying to contend with. I do still have some intense periods of grief over the people and places I left behind, but as I make new friends and put down some fledgling roots here, the intensity of the grief lessens. And our lives here are so much easier. We no longer have the responsibility of the upkeep of a house, and are no longer completely responsible for all grocery shopping and meal preparation. We are 5 minutes away from our medical care, rather than the hour of driving required each way in Los Angeles traffic, and we are now living in a geographically compact city in which most things that we need are within walking distance.
Add to that the fact that the air is significantly cleaner, and the weather noticeably cooler, and I find that I am incredibly grateful that I am no longer living in the smoggy intense heat in which I had to walk the dog before 8am and after 8pm in order not to make the two of us ill.
And here in Northern California, the fall rains have already arrived. We had a glorious weekend of two storms sweeping in with a much needed steady rain that was able to soak into the earth. I covered the boxes on the balcony with tarps, and then opened the sliding glass doors in the living room and bedroom (our only two rooms) so I could more fully take in the wonder of water falling into our drought parched earth.
How have all of you been these past six months?
Historic Art Deco, Eastern Columbia Building Entrance, 849 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California.
My body’s progress toward healing and infusion recovery is slow but steady. It’s complicated by the fact that I’m still not sleeping well at night. Don’t know whether it’s the heat or just that I’m unsettled. At any rate, one of my solutions when I don’t feel well is to look for beauty. We had to go out for groceries this afternoon, and I saw these flowers along the way. Capturing them on film definitely lifted my spirits.
I woke up this morning and discovered that the irises I bought yesterday had opened. Already the day had started out a little more hopefully than yesterday. I’m here on the infusion unit, my head still hurts like crazy, and my immune system still isn’t happy, but I get to go home to beautiful irises.