I Realize How Good I Have It
2021 has so far been 2020 the sequel. Although glimmers of light shine are trying to shine; the heaviness of grief, isolation and anxiety, continue to thread their way through the days with a heavy handedness that has been surprising.
Mama Maria continues to be true to her Sound of Music theme song. It seems every day brings another problem that would be easily solved with a closer location, or the end of this pandemic. Neither is reality, and her small problems morph into annoying, time consuming marathons; as getting the truth of most matters straight demand all the skill of Sherlock Holmes, and sadly, the constant use of Amazon. It is a rare good day when all needs can be delivered in one eco friendly package; between the boxes to Maria and the plastic gallon bottles of milk my household is suddenly going through, I feel like the melting Polar icecap is directly the result of me and mine.
And then, something big happens, and I realize how good I have it, how small my concerns really are. My oldest and dearest friend, the friend who tragically lost her parents last year , and then her beloved brother in law just two weeks later, went to check on her not so well remaining brother in law Monday, only to find him dead on the floor. He had been ill, and isolated, but this was a totally unexpected outcome. The shock, grief and guilt are unimaginable. That image will never leave her mind. Her husband has now lost all of his immediate family. Once one of three boys, he is now the lone survivor, the parents having died years ago.
The brother who died was tricky and complex, (aren’t we all), but some are more than others, and this brother was that and then some. Brilliant, erudite, caustic, kind at heart, with a hard shell built of intellectual prowess and a love of “lively” discourse. Ivy League educated, author of critically acclaimed books, freelance writer published at the highest level, he lived and loved the life of the mind. Taking care of his body and family relationships may have taken a back seat at times. This is not always the best recipe for family peace, especially given the ease with which we all slip into our family labels and roles.
Labels and roles was a big theme of Pema Chodron’s, Welcoming the Unwelcome, a book I recently read and feel is a must read for all. It is a perfect read for the state of our country and the reality of most families. We put people in their little boxes and leave them their to molder. We forget that those we love grow and change, and that the world at large may know them in a completely different and dare I say, more loving and positive way. And we all have our own habit of falling into old patterns and habits and not sharing our brighter better selves with those we love most. A rather large conundrum... but Pema illuminated the idea that losing the labels might change what I consider unwelcome, and who doesn’t want that.
I am seeing it as my friend struggles with the brother in law she knew and the man she is now learning about. The beautiful and heartfelt posts being shared are literate and quite incredible. Her husband commented that it sounded like a different person; a tragic situation made more so by a new sense of loss. What is worse than the “should have “ feelings of guilt and remorse added to an already cripplingly sad situation.
I have taken long walks into the woods these
past few days, trying to think of ways to help, and be there for my oldest friend. I have also made the time to take some of these meanderings with Don; to take the time to appreciate what we have , despite our huge level of stress and upheaval.
I see that once again, time is the answer. Take time in this moment and hold on to what you have with love; throw away the labels, destroy the stultifying boxes of judgment, and love wholeheartedly. Maybe, looking at our family with fresh eyes of acceptance, will allow us to see all aspects of our tribe. Maybe we see what we expect to see, maybe we block our hearts because it is easier to label and move on. If we can make this change in our homes, maybe we can move on to the world at large; finding the areas of commonalities instead of the killing judgement of them and us. Isn’t that what all our labels are, separators, when what we need most is to discover and honor our connection to each other and the world we live in?
I don’t know. But I have seen this week, (yet again, and how many times do I need this lesson? Apparently infinitely.), that when we think we know everything, we usually know nothing.
So today, on this sad day of a Covid style minimal wake and graveside ceremony, I send my blessings to my friend and her family. Privacy prevents me from sharing names, but if you have it in your heart take a minute, send love to all those you love, and to those who in this moment have lost almost everything.
Albert Camus wrote, “Sometimes, carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement.“ My dear friend, mi amiga buena, will now face this superhuman task with her family. Let us learn from it, it is the only positive thing to be gleaned from terrible loss. Tell those you love how you feel, don’t wait to call email or text, give of yourself fully and generously, and be a safe haven for others to show all of themselves. It is a day of sadness, and sadness should be shrouded in gossamer wings of love. May it be so.