Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blinding Clarity

"They say that time in heaven is compared to 'the blink of an eye'
for us on this earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my child
running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and
butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what he is
doing that when he looks behind him, I'll already be there."
~Author Unknown

And just that fast winter's grasp has slipped and let go. The days are balmy now and full of energy, brightness, symphonies of life and hope. I love this time of year, when the gray turns to green so vivid that it almost seems to glow, leaves shimmering in the sunlight as if to dance for the glory of God. I stretch my skin into the sun, uncovering arms and legs, neck and face...the relief of that warmth upon me making me realize I'd been cold for far too long, covered up and huddled down. I stretch toward the sky, at times smiling with all the strength I have, beaming my own light to Heaven as best that I can.

It is the continued paradox of this journey without Joseph. My days are full, stressed, almost frantic at times, yet somehow his memory comes to me in the spaces in between and I cradle my heart around them like a palm shields the flame of a candle. Nothing of note during his illness ever happened at this time of year and so many of my grief attacks seem to coincide with pertinent anniversaries. This time of year it seems simply to be linked to the new life bursting forth around me, the arrival of Easter, the promises of God, the freshness and youth of every chick and rabbit, each blade of grass, each bud on the limb. So lovely, so hopeful. Everything dies and everything renews. God is a cyclical entity and when I find my mind filled with doubt, I need only recall this and sense the (hopefully) patient smile or even loving exasperation as I wriggle in my fearfulness and faithlessness until I reach the point of logic that tells me..if all these lovely things, in their infinite simplistic complexity, come anew in each 12 month earthly span, why would the souls of humankind be any different in the realm of His creation? Even if we were somehow inflated and mistaken about humans being the greatest creation in God's own reflection, are we not at least as wonderous as these springtime beauties? And all I have to do is look at the children I have been given and know...yes. We are.

The newness of the earth makes me remember him. He was all springtime and freshness. He was, as all children are and particularly teenagers, full of life, wonder, miracle, expansion. Alive with promise and energy, not yet dulled by periods of spiritual drought or the winds of hard living. Thinking of him is to remember all good things that have ever happened to me and to know good things await me still, both in this lifetime and in whatever is coming after it. There is hope within this aching and faith my trembling hands do not deserve to hold. But that is the point...none of us really deserve it and still it is granted to us.

Somewhere, beyond here, he exists...elemental. Spiritual. Energistic. All the beauty he is cannot be created and cannot be destroyed. It can be dormant, as I have been dormant. It can be transplanted as I have been transplanted. It can be nurtured back to life as I am being now, this painful and confusing process of growing into who I am going to be on this earth without him. Joseph's life changed my pathway, a boulder planted squarely in the stream of my lifeforce, redirecting completely who I was becoming and who I am going to be. I could not be who I am had he not been who he is. He did not sacrifice himself for me and I loathe any thought that says what he suffered had to happen in order for me to be this person instead of that one. It is a guilt I will carry forever. Did this have to happen...for ME to happen? And if do I not hate myself for that? And yet...if it had to it not good that I spent the first five years doing as much as I knew how to embody the goodness that was Joseph into who I am going to be going forward and that I have utilized that goodness to strive for a joyful, grateful life? I try. I try for both.

And so the spring of the earth brings his essence to me in vivid colors, textures, scents and detailed thoughts. I do not know if I am still his mother or merely now a spiritual contemporary. All I know is I believe. I believe in him, in the ethereal essence of his mystical being and that I yearn for connection with who we were together and who we each are now. I am alive with sorrow, with need, with yearning....with hope and with gratitude, with servitude and reluctant acceptance. I cannot understand what happened. I cannot alter the tides or constellations. And these things make me cry. I cry for my lack of understanding, for my sorrow for not just his suffering but all of ours, for the goodbyes that await yet in the future and for the years that feel and have felt so very long to my immature soul. I cry not so much for what his death took from me, but perhaps from the change that wreckage forced upon me. Maybe even for all it gave me. Humility bears blunt force when brought upon by a tragedy of this magnitude. I am better now than I was then. I do not deserve to be better, yet what else could I do when he gave up so much? I want to be the best person I can be, not globally, not famously, but with smallness. With intimacy. I do not want to change great masses. I feel driven to be meaningful to a hundred lives person to person rather than to millions vaguely. I feel the voice of God in the smallness. And that is a voice I desperately need to hear, faithless and fearful as I remain.

I don't understand why spring comes to me and not him. I don't understand why it took his life to create my own. I don't understand why him and not me. Thinking about these things make me feel powerless, inept, damned and bereft.

But I do understand what feels right, what feels honorable, what feels like a link to Joseph's presence inside me and now a link to a person, a Sheri, I didn't know was in there. And when I tune with that, I feel tearful and humble, empowered and quiet, peacefully motivated. I have maybe 40 years left to do this. A blink of the eye in the time of Heaven. And a life that then stretched long and lonely out front comes to be short and inadequate. It is spring already. I stretch into my life, hands extended toward the sun, tearful with the brightness, blinded by the clarity.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


This new year has come with an intense push on my part to better my physical condition. I have jumped up and down 40 pounds as if I were getting paid to run back and forth and somewhere near that amount of gain in the last weeks of nursing school the jump up stayed up. With starting the new career I felt it an ideal time to simply start a new way of living - one that includes regular doses of vegetables and fruit, one that includes both cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. And one that includes opening myself up to new friendships. I have been fairly consistent in this goal, though admit to struggling with the lack of perceptible change in my physique given how much I have been doing. I track everything I eat on I attend cardio at least four times a week, strength training at least three. I am overweight and over 40 and thus my body hurts. A lot. Most of the time. So doing stuff like this and not seeing the results I am craving as quickly as I would like to see them is frustrating to say the least. Yet with each "down" episode of frustration I rally and dig in my heels for still more effort. It is the tactic of "if I beat it hard enough it will yield to my desires" (referring to my out-of-shape body).

In the last 48 hours I have gone to the gym and lifted weights with Joe, then did a several mile hike at the local nature reserve, finished that day off with an hour of Zumba and 22 Burpees, then awoke this morning for a half hour of Pilates and another hour of Zumba followed by some playful relay races in which my portion was to army crawl from one end of the studio to the other. Not pretty in more ways that one. I am physically exhausted.

I am just not in a good place lately. I do not feel balanced and am having to work very hard to remind myself of my blessings. The new job is going to take time. Lots of time from what I am told. So is the physical fitness/weight loss/strength thing I have going on. I am sliding very swiftly into thoughts of Joseph, into flashbacks of the year and a half of his illness. I am mourning, deeply, tearfully, all over the place. I am not sure why now or what is triggering me so much. I again come back to the theory that I finally have a bit of time for it - something I purposefully avoided after he died. Grief hurts. And it is a pain without respite. Once it takes hold there is very little you can do to alleviate the pain other than lay down, pray to God you fall asleep and pray even harder that when you wake up something will have interrupted the pattern enough to reset the bar and try again. The further away from Joseph's death I get, the less I feel entitled to these little spells...these "grief attacks". Yet they are near me and with me, as of late almost constantly. I am dissolving into tears around corners from people, in the car, in bed at night after the lights are off, in the hurry from here to there when I can keep my head low and my face turned away. Sometimes, like tonight, I am desperate for some relief from the isolation and emptiness. It makes the world seem so dark; my place in the world hopelessly small; my intentions woefully inept. There is just this tinge of sorrow all around me, some of it Joseph, some of it other things, all of it things I can't do anything about it. When I step back and look at my life and what I am doing objectively, I see someone who has every reason in the world to feel optimistic about the future. And I do. I'm just so sad within that optimism once in a while and today has been one of those days. I just miss him. I think my physical exhaustion makes it more difficult to control and contain the emotional. Someone pass the Kleenex. I am missing my oldest baby boy.

Someone told me in the past week that if she were to become ill, she'd want me to be her nurse. I love touching that sentiment in my mind, replaying it when I feel low. I doubt the person who said it had any idea it would mean so much to me. But it does. What a great compliment to recieve.  A burst of energy, strength and determination into my day.