Textured Beauty and Joy

mall ceilingIt was lovely, the abundance of the week, but so is this right now, this quiet Saturday morning in the wake of it all. It was lovely, the intensity of a short but delicious visit from my son, the abundance of turkey and rouladen and dirty mashed potatoes piled high, of family with all its limps, of spirits and sweets and thoughtful gifts and silliness in the forefront, grief in the wings. But so is this, right now, just the two of us, our space, our love, our music and books and comfy cottons, a glass of water, a cup of coffee, some sit-ups, a few stretches, last night’s wonderfully crisp beer and juicy bacon avocado hamburger still resonating in my memory.

It was very powerful cracking those coconuts the other night too, with the full moon, just before the winter solstice, as a way to explore the concept of our souls. The loud noise, the milk spilling out, the instant awareness that to be alive is to be loudly cracked open, to have chips, to be uneven and raw and nourishing all at once. It was a brilliant metaphor, thank you, Tara!

Every year the sun stops, and we feel the darkness, and we light candles and think about the birth of hope, and how babies embody perfectly the beauty, strength, determination, and resilience of our humanity, how they embody perfectly our vulnerability, our dependence, our endless hunger, our existential loneliness, our desire, our need for connection.

Your new granddaughter, by the way, so much like you dear Jeff, is stunningly gorgeous.

I feel so lucky. I am so lucky. There is the confusion and fear and insecurity that comes with consciousness, but there’s also this: so much love, and the wonderful gift you give when you allow me to articulate my truth, my grief—the complicated grief we all have and are conscious of to varying degrees. The wonderful gift you, dear Robyn, give when you invite me to sync my vagus nerve to yours, when you listen with insight and wisdom and empathy. The wonderful gift you, dear Jeff, give with your presence, your arms around me, your truth, your edgy humour, your tears and self-disclosure.

Let’s do it again, and again—open our eyes wide and speak the truth—as long and as well as we can, because though consciousness, like all good things, is fragile and easily lost, it is what makes laughter and love possible, what makes it all so textured and rich and big and interesting and wonderful.

Winter Solstice Words

candleWe made beautiful babies together, you and I, and that is—despite how everything has been altered—something to celebrate as we approach this winter solstice, this season of long nights, fear, candles, and hope.

The babies we made were miracles. They had enthusiasm to die for, and possessed charm and beauty and brains and creativity. The first knew he would someday be a doctor, even then. The second loved her many babies almost as much as we loved ours, and I knew she, too, would someday be a healer. The third made us all laugh, and thought doing math over lunch as a four-year-old was fun. We knew he too would find his place in the world and grace all who cross his path.

We worked hard, you and I, as parents tend to, to pay the bills, feed and clothe them, and offer an enriched childhood. They grew, and they inspired us, and made us proud. We listened to their stories and dreams, we played hockey and dolls, and we jumped on the trampoline; we walked the dog and read books and watched movies and made things; we took ski trips and camping trips, we ate and laughed and loved.

There were dissonant sounds. There always are; without them there is no music, and for a long time, it was beautiful music, even with the dissonance. But with time, the faults in the score ripped wide open. The dissonance dominated completely, and the pain between us took a steep toll.

It bent our backs, and finally our knees, and one day we had to lay it all down. I turned away, you turned away, and we all wept, and for a very long time felt nothing but sorrow.  You needed to stop running though, and I needed to stop crying, and so we bid each other farewell.

It got messier then in many ways, for all of us. But for all the dissonance, this remains in sharp focus: We made three amazing and beautiful human beings together.

Also in sharp focus for me is this: Three years ago, just before the winter solstice, I heard the bell that will someday toll for me. It echoes in my ear still, especially at this time of year, and it demands extravagance. It demands I speak of the beauty and mystery and contradiction of it all. It demands truth, it demands love, it demands openness.

What we had was real and good, but it was not the whole story, and not enough to sustain us for life. We aimed for the moon, and it was rich and fun, but too painful.

I see the little faces of our children when they were very young, and sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I miss their innocence with every bone in my body. I see the old dreams, and know I must find new ones. I know the shortest day of the year is just ahead, but that longer ones follow in its wake. I know that morning always follows night.

The season clearly brings heightened nostalgia for me; there is something about anniversaries of major events. Every winter now, my body remembers. It shouts its memory, makes it impossible to ignore. But I’m lucky. Not just to be here, but to have come close, because even though I have hated it intensely, this coming close, it has brought gifts too. I’m lucky to be here to see our children find their way to adulthood and learn to navigate this nutty world. I’m lucky to have so much love in my life, others who don’t mind me putting words to all this crazy messy beautiful and painful business of loving and living and letting go.

I’ve filled our home with greens, and have begun my December habit of lighting the candles. I’ve set an intention, several actually: breathe love and words and peace into all the dark and dusty and silent spaces of my life. Seize the day. Watch the dying light of the season and remember that it eventually comes to all of us one final time, and that until then, it is my task to make space for what I know, to articulate it, to live it and reject the lenses of denial and pretense that flatten and soothe and dull. It is my task to let awareness infuse my days with texture.

Our lives, yours and mine and that of the babies we created, unfolded as they did because there was no other way for them to unfold. The future will unfold as it will also, and I intend to embrace it. I intend to remember that my heart is big enough for the beauty and the pain. I intend to embrace the love that was, the love that is, the losses and changes, the joys and disappointments, the new gifts along the path, all of it.