This is the After. The breathless portion in which I try to assimilate where (who?) I am now. I wish I could say that it really didn't feel all that different despite all the build-up, but honestly it does. I spent my evening playing with Alex on the Wii, getting clobbered and slaughtered and laughing at my ineptitude. It really drives home to me how much it must mean to the boys when I spend time with them, because if they are looking for honest achievement in their games they are not going to get it from me. The entertainment I suspect comes in my comedic methods of technical failure.
I am sad tonight. I can't really describe it other than that, though I have typed and erased and typed and deleted several times now. I don't have anywhere to put it and I need to not just sit in it by myself. I listen to Christmas carols, think about my wedding two years ago tomorrow, think about being here on the other side of my greatest personal achievement to date and just feel all the overwhelming emotions of all these things - graduation. Marriage. Happiness. Goodness in life. Good things happening. Can so many bad things happen that one is uncomfortable being happy? I wonder sometimes. I feel like I need to go somewhere, to leave here and wander. To play in the snow. To walk on the beach. To sit in a forest at dusk and listen. To gaze at the mountain.To make love on the brink of dawn somewhere strange and foreign with Joe's strong arms as my security. I feel odd and weird in my own home. My lack of deadlines and direction is doing nothing for me right now. I am gaining weight at an alarming rate. I have dishes in the sink and laundry on the floor. I don't know how to just be in an ordinary middle class life anymore. I am too used to crisis and urgency or at least some modicum of stress. I am looking around for the next thing and there isn't anything. I am left wondering if subconsciously I am seeking to create it via messes and tight jeans.
Ah yes, I made it so far. So far, so far, so far from that place. And here I am, a mother's broken heart, living on and on, living with the guilt of having reached the quiet river that flows in the soul with gratitude for life and knowing I drink from it greedily, freely and often. I want to live. I want to live with gusto and passion. Missing Joseph is part of that passion. His loss has outlined the glossy blessing of so many aspects that weave through my world - my adoring husband and the depth and breadth of our soul's linkage, that foundation built upon the illness of children, on the survival of crises together. Joseph's handsome, healthy brothers who stumble forward with such courage, seeking to seize their little portion of the world. How they make me smile and ache inside with love for them. My relationship with my mother, my brothers, my nephews, my grandmother and cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. The lovely tree in my foyer and all the magical gifts that swim 'round. The spoiled little ball of undescript, personalitied fluff who prowls on the legs of a lion about our home and loves with a warmth and fervor that moves me to my core. I am surrounded with so much plenty. Joe replies matter-of-factly that I am ruled by different forces, that I am, in fact, The Princess of this little universe. I never wanted an ordinary life, yet somehow I never envisioned all my life has become, not even a hint of this brilliant light with shifting purple shadows. Can princesses be swept away by gratitude for their royalty? People comment on the joy, the radiance of my smile in the pictures they see from my wedding and graduation and all I can do is smile some more and acknowledge what it is they see. I am swept away with joy, yet solemn beneath the sorrow that brought me this deep appreciation. I am jealous of this joy. I know I will not bow gracefully the day even one more component of it is taken from me, and I fear this. I fear these days of fallow faltering are a foreshadowing of the person I shall be were ever my Joe or my children, my mother or my brothers to pass on. I can wish myself blue that I will go first, then succumb to intense guilt to bring that down upon the heads of the very people I just mentioned. And then I go 'round once more with the sense of being uncannily, paradoxically gifted, that I would not only be so loved but, more powerful perhaps, so aware that I am.
So I sit here and think of Joseph and struggle against the emotional draw that pulls me back in time. I struggle now to keep from having flashbacks to his illness and pull hard on my brain to bring forth the happy days - the smiles, the tenor of his voice, the silliness, his quiet inner grace. It can be a struggle. To feel the sorrow easily feels as if he is here with me - the curse of the bereaved parent. The sadness becomes the essence of both the child and the loss and both are easily accessed simply by pulling up memories of the panic and helplessness. A kind of posttraumatic stress from what my doctors have told me. How can I learn better to pull him near, dear and close through the joys of life instead of the loneliness and confused moments? I contemplate meditation, yoga, exercise, laughter and wonder where to find the courage, emotional strength, tenacity to indulge these things, to move past the veil of grief and guilt and go soul-exposed into a place of light. I feel afraid, both knowing I could if I truly try and that a large part of me is moving toward readiness for that. That I reach for it hungrily and drink of it greedily, this drunken joy when I look at my husband and lover, my man-children, my family and my friends. It doesn't take Joseph's place ... That is the amazing thing. It fills the cracks and spaces, protects what I think of as a light-filled space within me where his essence resides, creating brick and mortar out of fragility. A place I can feel the sadness but only reach out my hand to touch somewhere soft and nurturing. My fear comes from knowing one day all this shall go, bits or chunks at a time.
I never used to understand it when scriptures would reference God being a jealous God. I thought that was paradoxical and confusing...that if He were all powerful and omnipotent, what in the universe could he ever have to be jealous of? I think now of how I fear and hate and protect myself from anything that might separate me from this life I've been given. It is a kind of jealousy. Perhaps that is the kind of jealous that God is - feeling the ache from the things that take us away from him. I don't know. I feel foolish for this. I am ignorant and an ill qualified philospher. But I think and I wonder at times. I seek to understand, hopeful that in something intangible and spiritual I can find a way to hold on.
Two years ago on December 19th (it nears midnight and I am not sure if, by the time this posts, it will be tomorrow still or now today) Joe made me his wife. It was the most magical, joy-filled wedding I could have ever imagined, lit with twinkle lights and snowflakes, in my floaty white dress with the handsome object of my desire stating I am the object of his. He laughed so much that night, as did I and we have laughed so much since. He is the friend I have long needed, the impassioned lover my private thoughts fantasized about, the provider of security my weary soul could cling to, the safe harbor my battered ship was pulled into. In the years we have been together, I have known the kind of love women everywhere dream of, despair of ever finding and risk everything in hopes of obtaining. Lucky girl, that Sheri. He is going to be in Los Angeles over our anniversary and sadly I cannot give him so much as a kiss or a Hallmark card. But my mind is on that day, those promises, this life we have made together. As the vows he wrote me stated so sweetly - He shall be my rock. I shall be his light.