More than once of late I have wondered how it is that I am still here. I am not prone to exaggeration so believe me when I tell you that a series of storms tore through my life and left nothing but wrack and ruin. I would like to tell you a story of redemption, courage, unbreakable spirit. Alas, that is the stuff of one hour episodes, 8mm reels digested in two hours or less – stories tied in bows that allow us to skip away comforted by the fact that everything happens for a reason and it is all for the best really.
Reality is not literature. I do not know why these things happened and the compression of them in to a neatly tied package that I can point to and say “Ah so THAT is why” removes the reverence that must be held for what has been lost. What I do know is that I have learned a thing or two. I learned that I had sown my existence on rocks and thorns. I learned that I know nothing about anything with any certainty that stands up under a strong wind, and that hope is a slippery sliver of moon that can be annihilated.
My hope has occasionally been reclaimed in one thought: something has moved through my life with intention, and there is a fifty-fifty possibility that the thing is benevolent. Someone said to me yesterday that sometimes all that is left is to admit defeat. I have always been a brawler, when life knocks me down I stand back up, fists raised. And so, if I was ever to learn to surrender it all had to be torn down. I have been left with no other option but to bow my head and acknowledge that I am not in control and lack the strength to combat this force.
I sit among the ruins of this life, sifting through the rubble, holding things up to the light, inspecting their value and usefulness, determining whether they can withstand colliding storm fronts. I am seeking new foundations, things that will not bend or break under the most trying of conditions. Most is thrown to the wind, useless. Humility is all that has made the cut.
“… she told me she’d never adjusted to the light, she’d just never developed a tolerance for the world, her inoculation hadn’t taken.” ~ Miriam Toews, All My Puny Sorrows
Some friends and I have started a Bookckub. This is our first book, I chose it for the title. It is about two sisters, one struggling for life while the younger struggles with letting her go. Mental health, death, that intimate back and forth that only siblings have, inappropriate humour in darkness.
I have lost faith in a lot of things this past year … this book and it’s themes feel like they are no mistake. Some faith in something larger than myself is restored by the sense that the appearance of this book in my life is not merely a serendipitous turn of events. It is, as it turns out, a magnificent read.
Despite it all, I still believe in love … or perhaps because of it. I know the depths a human heart is capable of. Somewhere we know it can only ever end in loss. Not one of us gets out alive.
I would prefer to have things worthy of the pain than to shroud myself in the protection of fear – because the hurt is only ever an alternate expression of love that has lost a place to rest, a homelessness of the heart. At the end of my life I would like to be able to say that I loved well, that I loved deeply, despite knowing that ultimately it could only ever lead to pain. That, I suspect, would be a life worth living.
It is a work in progress.
The lights were being tested for new years on the bridge last night and I suddenly felt very sorry to see 2016 go; despite having been the most difficult year I have lived. It is, after all, the year my sister took her last breath and there is something about that which makes me reluctant to see it come to an end.
It is through it that I have reconnected with my family, especially my darling brother who is the only other living person that truly understands my experience of this loss. It is the year that my son did such a fine job of becoming my carer – the only person who knew exactly where to place humour during that devastating week at the hospital and when a hug or silence was the better option. The year I saw what a fine young man he had become and during which my brother-in-law gave me the privilege of witnessing grace in motion.
It is the year that I fully understood that I walk among giants. The friends that carried me with such care, tenderness and humility. Remarkable people to whom I owe an immense debt of gratitude. And a year in which new friends were made who have shown such a gentle patience with the chaos of grief that I have been. I hope to add them to my collection of giants.
These are the gifts that came from this year. The bitter sweetness carves a line of immense gratitude and love across the ball of sadness that still remains firmly lodged in my heart. Á bientot sis.