Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Miracle

I sit tonight and try to think about going to sleep, pondering. Tomorrow morning, at 8:30 AM, I will take my last final exam. Hard work over the last few years has paid off and I would have to make a 33% on the exam to flunk the course, an 83% to raise my grade to the next grade level. That leaves a vast area in between and a large, comfortable gap in which my grade, my GPA and my goals will not change.

How do I describe the roiling emotions through me tonight. I sip my little shot of Grand Marnier, listen to my heart and struggle to find the words. It was around this time of year, perhaps to the date (I am not letting myself get sucked into going to my old journal to find out for sure), in which Joseph went into respiratory failure and was moved to ICU, placed on a ventilator, where he spent the last four weeks of his life. This time of year is very bonded to Joseph and likely will be for the rest of my life. I cannot celebrate the season without remembering him, remembering our journey together. That I am going to graduate in the midst of it is fitting. It is, for me, the time of year for goodbyes.

Funny thing about goodbyes that I have come to realize. They are all about the love. If there were not the love, there would not be the hurt, the ache, the yearning, the sense of being torn. One is the flip side of the other. I say goodbye to people all the time, every single day and feel not one iota of mourning. Yet here I am, nearing the five year mark since sweet Joseph's death, and I still feel all those things. I still am finding ways to try to say goodbye. I am certain there are people out there who find my mourning tedious and my desire to speak his name uncomfortable. Undoubtedly they have their own hurts that they have felt stifled from feeling, or perhaps they just have not had to say this kind of a goodbye before. I do not know. I probably would have been one of the impatient ones at one time - in a different world. In a different life. I seem light years away now from who I used to be. I watch Sheri of yesteryear and feel a strange and painful forgiveness. I acted in so much ignorance so much of the time. I probably still do. That is the wonderful thing about ignorance. It is separated from stupidity by the one single truth - that if one knew better, one would DO better (thank you Maya Angelou). I know better now.

So here I am. At the end of my first major road since Joseph's death. Tomorrow I cross over that hillside. Walk off into that sunset. Take off one step at a time down a whole new road. I gasp inwardly at how much I have learned. I struggle beneath the pain of how I have changed in these five years. I marvel at the resiliency I have always had inside myself, but which has now been truly tested and of which I have no doubt. I am grateful - so grateful.

I have learned to pray again, at least if you can call it that. It is more an openness of spirit than actual prayer. A kind of spiritual sign language or telepathy perhaps. I trust God to know my heart. And I listen with it to hear His. I marvel at the clarity of it sometimes. So many doors have opened up to me. So many things have been smooth, easy sailing when it should have been choppy, have been plain and obvious when I expected the opaque and vague. I feel a little exposed as I come to the end of this particular stretch of road and meet up with the cornerstone, the new pathway opened before me and beckoning. I can't see far enough yet to know how much light there might or might not be up ahead, but I smell sweet air and feel God and Joseph in the breath of it, whispering. I open my mind and my heart to what the future may hold, to where I am supposed to go, tearful, grateful, mournful, secure, uncertain, supported, submissive. I can leave behind the barren, burned land of Joseph's illness and death. I have learned he is not there. He left there long ago with swiftness and grace, blessing and strength. I pray I leave there with similar attributes.

The link I posted is to a video of pianist Danny Wright playing his version of Canon in D with child pianist Emily Bear. Canon in D was once described to me as a musical illustration of the passage of life from birth to death. I love the music of Danny Wright. It has helped me to free up tears and give my mourning the physicality I struggle sometimes to find. I found this video of the two of them performing Danny Wright's version of this classic and was very moved. A child and a grown up, together weaving a lyrical vision.... My mind embraces it, hearing perhaps Joseph's life and my own, dancing together, the hands of both creating something hopeful, filled with depth, harmony, balance and beauty. I could not have ever found this pathway had Joseph not been part of my life. I suspect now that I am the child and he the mature, experienced spirit.


Angela Beck said...

So very proud of you, friend...I find myself feeling the same today, hoping my mom is watching me do what she so certainly knew I was meant to do.

JustJules said...

Dear Sheri,

I don't know the pain of losing a child; however, I can empathize with the feelings of loss. This post is so eloquently written. It brought tears streaming down my face - tears of understanding, tears of insight, tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of love for you and your brilliant heart and mind.
As I've told you before, I never knew the magnitude of the loss of my brother upon my mother until I held my son in my arms for the first time. I weep and weep and told my mother that I was so deeply sorry. Because just having Jimmy for one day- ONE DAY - I truly felt that to lose that connection - that deep spiritual connection to this other human would kill me. You and my mother have shown that life does go on. Life is different but what you choose to do with it is your choice. I am so very proud to call you my friend. And I am so very proud to call Nana my mother. I know that Joseph and Brian are free and filled with love and experiencing the peace that they need and deserve as we all do. It was just their time. I look forward to meeting Joseph on day as I do all your children. God bless you and keep on writing! You are amazing! Love, Jules

Robin Thompson said...

You are amazing. And I my heart of hearts, that Joseph is SO PROUD of his mama... : )

karen gerstenberger said...

Sending love, feeling gratitude, tears, joy, pangs, and most of all awe at the goodness and immensity of God's love, weaving our broken lives into the beauty of wholeness again. Though Joseph is not with you in body, as you wrote in your blog's header, you carry him with you. I daresay, he is your inspiration.

To think that in the midst of all of the painful transition of Joseph's illness and dying, that you have been loved and upheld by your sons, by Stuart, and by your beloved Joe is such evidence of that huge LOVE in which we live and move and have our being. That love also holds our children, and that makes me feel connected to them in a way that nothing can sever.

Your description of prayer is beautiful. I think it is also called "contemplation" in the oldest traditions.

May you continue to be "blessed to be a blessing." You certainly are that, to me.

Karen said...

beautiful, courageous, poignant. you are pressing on because your son is praying you forward, I suspect. Big hugs.