9: Crazy Things

9: Crazy Things

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Crazy Things

Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.

~Sri Ramana Maharshi

It was 5 a.m. here in Alberta and the household was asleep. I, obviously, was not. I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law, and being with them was like being inside a wonderful, accepting, loving hug. I felt so at home with them. Could it only have been two weeks since my beloved passed away? It felt like forever yet also like a heartbeat; time seemed irrelevant now.

This was the strange place I found myself in. After thirty-one years of marriage, I was alone for the first time. I went from my parents’ home to my first, brief, teenaged marriage. When that ended I still had my daughters to care for. Then I married my late husband. And now? It was just me. I had never been “just me.” I had no idea who I was or what I wanted in life.

I felt like I was floating in an ocean on a little raft, and the waves were getting choppy. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know what I liked, I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know even what I wanted to do for a living.

When my daughter flew in on the day my husband died, she brought me a lovely hand-bound journal. I wrote in it daily. As wacky as this may sound, I wrote to my deceased husband every day. It was my way of settling things in my mind, of gently letting him go, of assuring myself that he was okay, was happy and not hurting anymore.

The morning after my husband died, I got up and brought my beads out to the dining room table. After I had my shower, I found both daughters and my granddaughter at the table making necklaces. We proceeded to bead for the entire day and part of the next. We made lots of jewelry, and we reminisced about my precious husband, their dear dad and grandfather.

We talked candidly about what had healed inside us and what had been ripped open. We laughed about funny things from the past, and we ached knowing the pain that he endured during his long illness. We put words to feelings that had remained unspoken for so many years.

We did some big-time healing right there at the dining room table, with the power of women loving women, each passing her strength and her love, one to another. We shared our fears, our vulnerabilities, and our sick familial sense of humor (of which we are very proud — a gift of our dubious lineage). We were women doing what women know instinctively how to do — keep the home, heal the family, mend the wounds, be strong as only women can. And I was happily the crone, the elder, the earth mother, the matriarch.

In the face of my husband’s death, it surprised me to learn how strong I was. I thought I would fall apart, perish even. I thought I would be inconsolable, incapable of reaching out to others. I thought I would be numb, frozen. I thought I would be broken. But I learned I just needed to be open to my spirit, open to the love of those I trust, and to the prayers and quiet power of love.

I needed to grieve, not with a petulant flavor that won’t allow for healing, but with a fierceness that lets out the pain and lets in the light. I needed to allow the animal in me to writhe in anguish, let out her guttural cries, allow her time, feed her light. I needed to accept that grief does not come in a tidy little package that you open for X number of days or weeks and then wrap up again and put upon the shelf. It is an unpredictable, independent, wildebeest, and we ride it.

A twisted, delightful part of me revels in my newfound freedom to be whatever I want. I can be unpredictable. I can do crazy things. I can feel my way into discovering who I am.

So I go forward now, as I always have, putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. I do not look out over the entire mountain because it is too scary, too vast. I look down instead to where my feet are, and maybe a little bit ahead. I slowly take my steps. Maybe one day it will be different, but for today, this is enough.

~Ruth Knox

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