Thursday, March 31, 2016

For Thor - 40 - Despondence

Good morning, darling boy.

I'm not surprised to find despondence elbowing it's way in and casting a shadow over my inner landscape. It is a natural symptom of sorrow. It beckons me to settle into a state of inaction. It grips me like a drain at the bottom of a pool, holding me down in that breathless place in an unbreakable vacuum, immobilized. It is not the time to surface and return to the busyness of life. It's not the time to walk away from this place of mourning. I worry about lingering too long in the depths without a breath, without a break. It seems a short slide from sorrow into abject depression - something I really would rather not do again.

Self-care, self-love, and patience with this whole process are my only compass points as a navigate this unmarked terrain. Surviving takes applied effort, spiritual energy, and time. The body, mind and spirit need food and nutrients to recover fully from the deep wound of your death, Thor. Creativity is the best existential nourishment I've found. I can find the mental and physical energy to engage in actions that result in something beautiful, nurturing or useful. Any effort, or even lack of effort when I rest, is oriented toward healing, conscious living, and love.

So when despondency wants to keep me immobilized for a while, it's best not to fight. Resistance here only breeds anxiety. My job is to lean in and inquire into it, "What is revealed here?" Amazing to me, despondency has a purpose. It keeps me from running away from the pain of the work in front of me. It forces me to move slowly and stay put a while longer as my heart continues to expand in empathy and love. It disallows me to run headlong into the world when I have no bearings and no idea of what I want to do once there. It tethers me to the bottom of the well of grief with a lead just long enough to catch a little air and a short break now and then before pulling me back. I am captive in its inexorable pull. I am a ward of its power and live moment to moment in its wake. When I need to breathe, and the weight of despondency is so thick that my legs don't want to move, and anxiety takes over because I have so many things "to do", I get up and do one thing. Just one thing, even if it is as small as washing my coffee cup or feeding the fish. Somedays one thing done will lead to another thing like taking a walk or cooking a meal. Somedays I write. Somedays I cry a lot.

A friend gave me some sourdough starter which is now a pet project. Keeping the wild yeast alive and getting it to leaven a loaf of whole grain spelt is quite intensive. Tinkering with the grains and condition of the dough as it transforms through enzymatic processes from a grain mash to bread is more than a distraction. Planting seeds in the greenhouse and cultivating the earth is more than mere yard work. Feeding the fish, coloring seashells and writing poetry are all so much more that activities to pass the time. Meditation and Hatha Yoga and taking long walks with the camera in tow are more than exercises to manage the physical strains of stress. Cooking meals for your brothers and you dad is more than just a daily chore on my to-do list. I meet friends for lunch or dinner as a small step toward re-entry. All of these activities express a higher calling and purpose; first, I can do them here in grief where I live right now, and second, they are inspired by the need to create, nurture and serve others.

Since you died, and I was tossed into the crucible of grief, I am less willing to live in disharmony. Bit by bit the inner landscape is reforming to accommodate a new way of being that is rooted in "I Am" and underscored by Love. One of my favorite things to use is a Tibetan singing bowl. It will resonate with a rich harmonic hum when the striker rolls around the rim at just the right angle. These days I am living and being in each moment more mindfully. I roll my thoughts, actions and words (the strikers) around the rim of a simple precept (the bowl); Does this bring more love and light to the world?
Does it hum in harmony? If yes, then okay.

And so this journey unfolds day by day, revealing a deeper understanding of what is real. Today despondency is upon me, but I am content to be with it in the depths for as long as it takes. It is sorrow that leads me here, and I am not afraid. All of this is experience is temporary and changing like the weather. I just have to wait for the clouds to shift. They always do.

I love you,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

For Thor - 39 - Easter

There is a potful of hyacinths on the coffee table. They offer a sweet fragrance that I try to take in but their perfume can't permeate the sadness of my heart.
There is a bowlful of jellybeans on the coffee table. They are cheery in their bright promise of sweet fruity flavors for my tongue. I give one a try, but they taste flat.
There are Peeps and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and malted-milk eggs, too.
I boiled eggs and peeled them to eat for breakfast.
The Easter Bunny came to visit and left new fishing gear for all of us - a tradition in our family since your very first Easter when you got a Snoopy pole.
It looks like Easter. The chorus "He is Risen" is resounding on my Facebook feed and in the very air around us as the world celebrates The Resurrection. Those three words hurt a lot this year. They don't instill hope in my heart as they intend.
Rejoice! He is Risen!
Not for me. When I hear those words today, all I feel instead is…"He is Dead." Fini. Done. Ended. Fucking over. MY son will not be rising to join us for Easter supper. My son will not be here to go fishing with us this year. MY gone.

There is a Thor-sized hole in my heart that weeps constantly and on days like today it overflows with tears.

A deep-boned sadness lives inside of me. Like a shadow, it follows me no matter where I go or what I do. Have you ever noticed how a shadow's intensity is directly related to the intensity of the light by which it is cast? With each step I take toward healing, the shadowy specter of you, our new relationship, this grief and sorrow becomes more defined. It's as if it is taking on a collection of traits, an identity that distinguishes it from any other grief. And today, under the soft glow of an Easter dawn it lays heavy across my heart. One more milestone in the "year of firsts without you" is upon me.

I've always loved Easter. Even as a girl, it was one of my favorite holidays. Hope and renewal imbue the rituals and rites that mark its observance. Symbolic eggs, chicks, bunnies and flowers all singing the praises of a renewed life around us as the wheel of the year turns to spring. The miraculous rising of Jesus from the tomb reminding me that I am reborn when I forgive and love as he taught us to love - joyfully and without judgment.  I am trying to connect to these beautiful concepts that can infuse my heart with gladness and hope. But today they are as tangible as echoes across a canyon.

Even my most simple gratitude practice is a tired struggle; so many great blessings surround me, it would be laughable if I weren't so sad. Everything feels like an enormous effort, and when I do get something done, there is no satisfaction in it. I hear myself laugh, but it sounds hollow. I observe myself being carried along on conversation and wonder how it's possible when my mind is a million miles away. It must be a memory of polite behavior that is magically applied and allows me not to be a total asshole.  Grace has my back…

I've been severely depressed before, and this is not it. It occurs to me that grief, perhaps, is depression's noble cousin. It is noble because it has a reason for being--your death-- is the justification for taking over my body, heart and soul. I would like to know where it leads, though. Will I ever walk again? Run freely? Be happy? I've heard over and over that there will be unbearable days and that these will cluster around holidays or other special days - the ones that matter to us. Maybe this extra-think blanket of sadness has everything to do with it being Easter; a holiday that is in direct opposition to how I feel inside.

You've kept me awake the past three nights, darling boy. It's as if you know that I have found a new depth in the well of grief, and you've come to be with me as I continue to fall into this abyss. I am beginning to think the well of grief is a black hole that sucks everything into it with an inescapable force. It appears to be devoid of anything, but in fact, contains everything. The catch is that to regain what was lost; I have to go through it. I have to survive the bone-crushing, heart-wrenching, gut-twisting forces that pummel me here. I have to be willing to let loose of everything, including my attachment to you, Thor, so that I may emerge on the other side renewed and imbued with the knowledge of Peace and all that encompasses. This is a resurrection journey, so maybe it's a good story for Easter, after all. 

The ticket to go on this trip is easy to get if I am willing to feel whatever arises if I can lean into the pain, let the tears come and to be at peace about it. One day several years ago, I took part in a fascinating discussion with Aunt Radha, Nana and Grandpa. We were exploring the question "What is happiness?" After much consideration, we agreed that anyone is happy who is rooted in peace each moment, no matter what is happening in that moment. So, even when I am crying out of grief, if tears are what the authenticity of that moment calls for, then tears of grief are truly happy tears. They are a perfect expression of that moment and pure self.

Some well-meaning people tell me that you wouldn't want me to grieve or be sad. I respectfully disagree…you would want me to do what I must do to cope; I feel an indescribable depth of despair and sadness. Jelly beans or no jelly beans, Easter rolls around, and I am wretched over the fact that you are not here. I am miserable in knowing that our family is broken, that you are gone. It fucking sucks that you won't go fishing with us.  Feeling like I feel in each moment and not running from it is my work, it defines this new journey as your mom. I am grieving, and in the most existential sense, I am content to do that for as long as it takes.

I may not be rejoicing on Easter, but that's okay. Others can express that joy on my behalf; I will continue to go through the motions of celebrating a holiday with the family since that is what is also in front of me to do today. We all hurt, we all feel the terrible pain of your loss; hopefully, as we come together to share a meal and fellowship, there will be smiles to shine through the tears.

I love you,

Friday, March 25, 2016

For Thor - 38 - You Live in a Smile

Yesterday, we marked twelve weeks since you died. A full moon rose red on the horizon and sailed high into the night sky. I couldn't help but think it was your moon, Thor. You were so present last night; in the silvery beams of light that cast purple shadows, in the frog song and the wind playing through the chimes outside my window.  The constellation formerly known as Orion, which I have renamed "Thor," was right above my head. All of this beauty danced around me on the outside, and when I closed my eyes to savor it, I could feel you warm and close in my heart.

The past couple of days has been hard as time drags me along inexorably toward some distant place across the sea of grief. There is a profound sadness that lingers just below the surface now - instead of being the first thing I see in the mirror. I've conjured up some semblance of normalcy to do what I need to do to live. But this grief is never far away, anyone who looks closely enough will see right through me; I am mostly a mirage.

I've been spending some time in Dillwyn while Chaz takes Driver's Ed classes. Sometimes I meet up with friends during those ninety minutes and sometimes I simply take a book and settle in at Frida's or Pino's with some supper and a glass of wine. Last night I hadn't made plans to meet anyone, so I was on my own. As luck would have it, I ran into a few of your young friends, Thor. And it was incredible.

Anyone who ever met you and received one of your dazzling smiles holds a memory of you that is sacred to me.  And you had friends of all ages and walks of life, but it’s the young ones who captivate me. When I see these people who were your chosen tribe, it's like a part of you is reflected back, alive and well in them. I find that I care even more now about their happiness and in how their young lives are unfolding. We will never get to share this experience, you and I.  Since you died, your friends have become a living extension of you. They hold a repository of memories and stories that keep you alive for all of us. This keen interest goes beyond the simple day to day of what they are doing. I want to see them soar as truly happy people. I want them to see that there is more to life than gossip and drama, that they are divine beings in a human body. I want them to see that they can live with the dignity of belonging to God.

Birthdays are coming and going, graduation is approaching, Easter and a summer full of lazy nights catfishing are on the horizon - all the million moments that you should be here sharing with all of us.  There is some measure of poignant joy in celebrating the achievements and milestones of your friends, Thor. But it is agonizing that you are not among us to celebrate in person.

You've been so close to me this week that when I ran into one young friend, in particular, it felt as if you were talking to her through me. There were so many stories of people telling me how you offered good advice when they needed it, that you were old beyond your years to have such insight and wisdom. So there I was, with you all around me, offering advice and cheering her on to embrace fearlessly a bright future. But this message isn't just for one person, is it, Thor? There is a fierceness and clarity to the message I am compelled to share with everyone:

Do what you want to do in life, don't chicken out. Challenge your fear. Life is short.
See your dream life in your mind clearly and then take one step toward it. Then another. Have faith in your vision.
Be your own best friend; listen to the dialogue in your head. Are you kind to yourself? Are you your best friend or worst critic?
Help someone other than yourself - every single day.
Love everyone, like Christ, does. For real. Everyone!
Life and love are messy and hard; it is meant to break us, so we learn to love more fully.
See the beauty in challenges that help you grow.
Forgive each other. Fallible humans will fuck up over and over again; it's what we do. Quit expecting perfection and Forgive already!
Find peace in every moment - no matter what you are doing - because this moment is all you have.
Let Joy into your life. Let it sing through all you do.

It gets awkward sometimes because every time I see one of your friends I want to scoop them up in my arms and hold them in a big hug and deliver these words directly to their hearts. I know that everyone must come to hear their truth through their experience, so I have to wait until those moments may arise. Losing you has pushed me to expand my maternal arms around a bigger bunch of kids. I am not sure how it all works, but here I am, loving you and loving them for loving you. They are part of my tribe, now. They are also part of your living legacy. Theirs are the lives you touched that will carry on, forever altered by the impact of your being. Your footsteps forever etched on each one of those hearts. How can I help but love them, too?

I love you,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

For Thor - 37 - Spring Puppy Comfort Love

Good morning, Thor. I miss you today and every day. All the changes that are happening around here would make you so happy to see. I would give anything to be able to share them with you over a cup of coffee on the patio. Or better, with cigars under the periwinkle twilight sky.

Spring Equinox
The first day of Spring came on Sunday. It was a rainy and chilly day after a week of mid-70's, with a freeze warning for early flower and fruit blossoms. Bumpy weather patterns are a good match for my emotional and mental state these days. Winter releases its grip on our world, somewhat reluctantly, and I'm torn between my longing to stay close to the rawness of your passing and learning to live in a world that you no longer occupy.  In the first few weeks after you died, the turning of the seasons was a distant mark on the horizon; Spring Equinox seemed a lifetime away. From that vantage point, it marked a chunk of time that would pass, which if survived, I would take stock of where I am and how I might re-enter the world.  A soft deadline. Ha. Nothing soft about it.

A new season dawned. Another milestone has come and gone -- without you here. I am still a broken vessel, the cracks wide open and glaring.

Time is both my healer and my tormentor. It passes without pause, without a break, without a hint of giving a shit about what happened to you, to me, to all of us. And yet, it is the force that will not stop, continuously flowing toward the promise of hope and healing. Time heals all wounds, they say. There is a lot left unsaid in that little platitude; like the importance of how one thinks and what one does during that time that can have a big impact on the quality and measure of healing. Time, by itself, is simply the implacable river that pushes me through each minute, day, hour, and milestone. How I fill them is up to me to and to sorrow, whose lead I am following on this crazy ride. Will I have years of time filled with anger and resentment over your death? Will I fill my days with lamentation to God, demanding "Why?!" and wanting to see the freaking receipt for this transaction; surely he cheated me? In these moments, I feel short-changed. Will I spend many minutes and days trying to remember all the carelessly experienced moments with you that I did not fully commit to memory? Will I set my eyes on the horizon to where I know dawn will break - a new dawn that will illumine this blasted landscape in the soft, pink light of hope? Will I look around me to your Dad and brothers and see that we are still here --we are a family with a big hole blasted out of the middle-- and we must learn to carry on. Every minute that passes pulls me further away from you, you that was here in the flesh as my bright and beautiful son. And so, time is both healer and tormentor, it just depends on what I am thinking in each moment. 

As the Equinox approached, I knew we needed a plan to get out and do something fun, build new memories, tell some jokes, and interact with the world as a group. We are still learning how to walk with a missing limb, Thor. It's not easy, but we are finding our way. 

We decided to hit the bowling lanes. I dug down deep to find the resolve I needed to affect a carefree, fun and silly attitude.  Your brothers need to see me smile, from my heart and through my eyes. I cheered and danced as we tried to remember the motions of throwing a ball down a lane - hilarious! There were some gutter balls (ouch!) and some strikes (Yay!), sometimes we were successful in picking up the spare (Niiiice!), and sometimes we left an open frame (Oh, well, there's always cheese fries!).  The physical challenge of bowling was more than I expected, and after just two games, I was done. But it was fun. Grief takes its toll on stamina, so I am mindful of these new physical limits.

We have been looking for a mini schnauzer since last fall when we fell in love with little Max - you know Dave and Kristen's sweet little dog. In all the madness since December 31, I hadn't resumed my search until about mid-February. I knew I needed the cuddly love snuggles of a little fluffy pup. The unconditional love and intuitive, deep empathy of dogs are perfect for grief.  Dogs get it and can just BE there with you while you cry. They lick your tears and are steadfast in their attentive care to make sure you are okay. And then you have to get out and take them for a walk!

Finding a mini-schnauzer puppy or even getting one of the breeders to call me back has been next to impossible. So, when I heard about a woman who has schnauzers a little over an hour from home, I was thrilled. I gave her a call, and we chatted about Lady, a two-year-old female that needed to find a new forever home. Big changes were facing Lady's human family, Sandy's husband's cancer is returned, so they need to sell the farm and the livestock and find new loving homes for some of the pets. As Sandy spoke, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get a grown dog. I had it in my head that I wanted a puppy. I told Sandy I would think about it and would call her back. 

I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to meet Lady to see if we were a good fit. Did I need to deal with housebreaking a dog? Did I need to hassle with vet visits and all when I am barely keeping myself together? I called Sandy and arranged to meet Lady on Sunday after we had finished bowling.  We followed Sandy out to the farm where we met Mark and all their schnauzers - Lady's brother and her mom and dad. We fell in love with all of them, but little Lady seemed to know she was destined to come with us. She loved up on Xan and Dad, and when she finally came to sit with me, she jumped into my arms and was content to stay right there.

Lady came home with us on the first day of Spring after a long search for a puppy that had netted zero responses from breeders I had contacted in five states. It appears that we were supposed to find each other at precisely the right time for us both. She came to us with death as a universal connector; me in mourning for you in desperate need of a sweet pup to kiss my tears away, and Sandy and Mark, who are preparing for Mark's passing sometime soon.

I soon learned that I was right about needing Lady. On Monday evening, Dad came home with some guys who are clearing some land for us (another change!). He finished talking to them and asked me to come out and help him mark the trees we want to keep.  It was exciting to think about the flood of sunlight, the night sky and open space that would soon be ours. Dragon's Glen was going to have finally, well, a glen! At that moment, I felt fine, maybe even good. Then Dad had to hook up the camper to move it out of the way of the logging machinery.

The camper is your little home. We bought it so you would have a place to come back to that was your own and didn't force you to sleep in a room with your brothers. We bought it so you would have some autonomy and still be home. We bought it so you didn't feel pressured to find somewhere to live that wasn't right or didn't suit or put pressure on a young love relationship. I remember when we decided to buy a camper that you could use…
I was standing in the shower and started crying at the idea of you needing a place to live that would suit a young man who is too big to be home and too young to be entirely independent. I told your dad that I thought a camper would be the perfect solution since we could still use it once you found or bought your own place. 

I am so grateful to have made that decision. We got the camper in early December. We had a few short, but beautiful, weeks with you here living in your little pad out in the driveway. It made my heart sing to hear your truck rev up in the morning as you left for work. I hated the nights you didn't come home and stayed with friends. I cooked supper and was so happy that you were home to eat with us. You, Xan and dad played guitars along with Chaz on bass. We bought you a little Christmas tree and some lights for the camper so it would be festive and fun in there for you. 
Since you died, we've slowly closed it up.  First, all your clothes, bedding, and belongings came out. Then all the little things like the coffee pot, space heater, and whatnot were removed. A couple of weeks ago, Dad put up the stairs and slid the small deck underneath.

So, when Dad hooked the truck to the camper, and it moved I shook my head NO! and tears fell just like in those first, worst weeks. Moving your little home away from its spot struck me with the Mac Truck of realization, all over again, that you are not coming home. Ever. How, oh how can this be?  I cried on Dad's shoulder for a moment and came to the house, heartsick and shaken. The devastation of your death was refreshed on my heart in this one simple act.

Lady insistently pawed at me to sit with her. Her sweet, soulful little face urged me to pick her up and nuzzle her soft ears. So I did, and the tears came for a good long while. Our little Ladybug knows how to sit in grief and how to make sure I do, too. She seems to understand the balance of letting me be in sorrow and when it's time to get up and go for a walk.  It's perfect; she offers empathy without wallowing. And on top of that, she curls up on my lap, a warm ball of love, sunshine and comfort. What a blessing to have her here for me when I just need to cry and I don't have to be alone, or talk about it - most of what I am feeling has no words.

Oh, Thor! You would adore Lady, and she would love you! She would melt your heart like she has mine. I can hear you saying "Oh my goodness, what's this? Come here little sweetie!" And then you two would be napping on the couch before I knew it - and you would totally try to convince me that she needed to be in the camper with you.

Spring is here, and changes are in the air. The season of awakening, renewal and growth is working on me in many new ways. I find that hope resides in the deepest parts of this broken heart. I am planting seeds of intention to live mindfully, in love and expanded awareness in my heart. Change is all there is in this world. If I need refuge from this fact, I need only sink beneath the surface of the waves to remember we are all the water. There I can find you - and Peace. It's a funny kind of dual vision, but it's good enough for now; for this moment in the river of time.

Okay, boyo, time to take Lady for a walk!
I love you,

Friday, March 18, 2016

For Thor - 36 - Sky-blue Tastes Good

Hello, my darling boy.  I've been a bit wobbly this week, tired and heartsore even more than I was before. Sorrow seems to keep finding new depths for me to explore. Yesterday, I simply had to get out of the house and go for a walk in the woods. The big sky and fresh air beckoned me to seek solace and peace outdoors. My feet found their way to a pleasant hilly, yet gentle, wooded trail that is bordered by a friendly little creek. It was a mild sunny day which was full of the promise of spring. All of this was incongruous with my troubled and tired heart. As I set out, I shadowed by my own personal raincloud.  All week there had been weight laying on my chest that wouldn't allow me to breathe deeply, and a lump in my throat that I know is holding back a tidal wave of emotion. I realized that I've attempted to think my way out of and assert my will onto a recent unsettling experience, and in doing that I hadn't cried, like really cried, the tears that heal -- for days. 

Crying is good. It's crucial to allow the waves of grief to rise inside and overflow through my eyes. I pray for Grace, so I can accept and even lean into the pain. I learn to live with this sorrow woven into the fabric of my being. Tears and time are the best healing tonics.

So as I strolled along on my walk, I had a frank conversation with God. It went something like "What the fuck is this all about, anyhow?" "Did you really have to take my son?" "Were you trying to make a point? Lead me somewhere?" And then "Are you heartbroken and sorry for me losing my boy?" and "Did you mourn for your son's death like I mourn for mine?" "Do we share the sorrow of losing a child?" This was followed by, "Is all this suffering really necessary for us to want to come home to you?"

I came to a shrine overlooking the mountain range and river. There I sat and waited for an answer to be whispered on the wind. Birds flew by, and flowers bobbed their heads in the breeze. The sky blasted blue into the back of my eyes so deeply I swear I could taste it; sky-blue tastes good.

In this space where senses meld, an answer came. "Daughter, Peace is all there is. The changing nature of this world will cause suffering because you believe it is real, and you have expected it to bring you happiness.  Peace is the only thing that is real and changeless. This world and everything in it, anything conceived of by the mind, is an illusion. Suffering pushes us to look beyond the illusion to the deepest parts of your heart where you can see that All is One. Seek Peace - the Peace that Passeth Understanding. Live in Love. Be kind to yourself as you open your eyes and heal."

Well, that was certainly something! More than I was expecting and boy, I needed it. I was getting a tiny bit tired of not hearing back from The Big Guy after all the praying and talking to Him I'd been doing. The little black rain cloud that had been following me around began to lift, but it was not quite ready to go, all together. I paid my respects to God at the shrine and kept walking. The message ran through my mind. I turned it over and over like a pebble in my palm the subject of examination in the florescent lights of my analytical mind. Conclusion...somethings cannot be understood with the mind, they must be turned over to the heart. 

Eventually, I ended up at the scene of the accident. I've come to think of this place as the "Launching Pad," for it was here 11 weeks ago where you exhaled your last breath, where your heart stopped beating and where you launched into the Great Unknown. I sat in that same spot and looked around. The earth turned in her slumber, as the spring sun gently nudged her awake. The hard-packed clay, gravel and pine needles were rough to my skin and grounded my attention to that place. Right here, in this sacred spot, the tears came -- and they came for a long time. They are not the tears of lamentation, Thor. These tears are sorrow's purest expression and they have great healing power.

After a while, when I felt like I had expressed all that needed to be, I resumed my walk.  I noticed that I felt so much lighter. Even though crying had swelled my nose (I need to remember to carry more tissues with me when I walk!), I could breathe deeply. The lump in my throat and the bands around my ribs were relieved. I tipped my face up to the sun to let it dry the last of the tears from my face. I felt you with me at that moment - wrapped around me like a big hug, a delicious feeling of your presence holding me close. I will be okay; you're going to make sure of that, aren't you, Thor? I have to trust that sorrow knows the steps to this dance. My job is to follow and to keep my heart open, so I can hear the music, the song the Universe is singing.

Several people have asked me how I can be this strong. They want to know how I can bear to walk into the maw of grief with eyes and heart wide open like this. The thing is, I am doing it for you, Thor. This is still your story. Our story. And I am still your mom. Our relationship is changed, but not gone. It's not how I would have liked the script to go, but it is what it is. It's what we have in front of us. We are recovering from the shock of your death, everyone is; Dad, your brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and your Starr. We will never be the same because this loss is too deep, too big. It will scar us for life. But we are growing through the pain. We grow stronger and closer together each day.

I ran across a funny but deeply insightful video of a Rabbi talking about lobsters, of all things. He told a story of how these remarkable little crustaceans grow. Apparently, their shells do not grow with them, like our skin grows with us. Lobsters must first produce a shell into which they will grow. So, when a lobster begins to get too big for his shell, he feels enormous pressure and even great pain. His suffering drives him to seek a hidey-hole where he sheds his entire shell. He is rendered vulnerable and naked for a while until he can make himself a whole new shell. One that is bigger and has plenty of room to grow. The Rabbi went on to say that we humans can learn a thing or two from the humble lobster; without pain and suffering there is no growth, pain drives us to expand if we are willing to endure it. He went on to ruefully draw the connection to all the prescription and over the counter pain meds, recreational drugs, alcohol, extra-marital affairs, fighting, drama, etc… All these things we do to try to minimize, eradicate, distract ourselves from or simply NOT FEEL pain. And worse, we develop no capacity for empathy for others' pain.   

In the wake of your death, my world was shattered, but I am rebuilding consciously. Like a vulnerable, naked little lobster, I linger, protected, in this hidey-hole of our home. Angels surround and take such exquisite care of me. God sends them as helpers along this unavoidable journey.  Their love makes up the spiritual and emotional bandages that enwrap and sustain me body, mind, and soul while I heal - and grow a new shell. The new shell has room for developing tremendous empathy and compassion, Thor. In this way, I will be a living tribute to the beautiful soul that you are, which I was privileged to call "my son" for a short while here on earth.

I love you,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

For Thor - 35 - New Edges

Oh boy, Thor. Getting back into the world is going to be harder than I thought it would be. I find have agreed to things I used to do and then discover I don't have the capacity to handle the unpredictable nature of life as it unfolds around me. Sometimes, it seems, I have to find these new limitations the hard way; I hit them head-on or fall off of them, like a cliff, to splatter on the rocks below. There is no warning sign "Steep Drop-off Ahead" to tell me to slow down or be cautious as I feel my way back into the world. One moment there is what passes for solid ground under my feet (as solid as it gets these days), and the next I am hurled, free-falling into the abyss. 

To make matters worse, the tools I usually rely upon to be able to protect myself as I navigate the buffeting, loud, chaotic and sometimes dangerous exterior world are not available to me. They, along with so many of my usual go-to skills, have been rendered inaccessible. So, yeah, getting back into the swing of things is not going to be as easy as I thought it was. I had a notion (maybe a hope?) that I would be able to ease back into the harness and gradually learn to pull the weight of my life, again. I would resume friendships where they left off. I would pick up the thread where I had dropped it on that tragic day.  Maybe it’s just too soon. Maybe I tried to do too much, too quickly. Even so, I know that no matter how much time goes by, I am forever altered. There is no coming back to be the same me that was, because I died the day you died, Thor. My heart may still be beating, air is moving in and out of my lungs, but that me from before December 31, joined you in death. I must be resurrected from the ashes left in the wake of your passing. One day, I'll be raised from the bandages and eased with gentleness and love back into the light of day. But first, I have to find all the pieces, reassemble them and give them time to knit back together.

To do this, I need to feel out the edges and draw a map to mark the cliffs that define the new limits of what I can handle.

I have gained yet another expanded awareness, now that I have discovered a cliff and fallen from its heights. The world is full of all kinds of people. Each of them plays a different role, some are beautiful, loving and supporting. And some of them have the role to act rashly, loudly, or badly. These are the countless oblivious, tortured, fly-stung, anxious people who will inevitably bump into me, sometimes literally. Their busy, distracted, loud and self-absorbed presence makes me painfully aware of the scope of suffering and unwitting ignorance that pervades the entire human race.  I have enormous compassion for them because in my current state of being I can see them and their pain so clearly. But I cannot help them now. I still have ice on my black eye. However, they cannot be permitted to run roughshod in my reality. I'm too open and raw to withstand their behavior.  Their hob-nail boots, coarse language and vampiristic tendencies can easily demolish me.

I feel like a new shoot that has tentatively unfurled its tiny leaves from the blasted landscape and is in great need of protection. There is no fence or little wire cage thoughtfully placed by a kindly gardener to safeguard my tender heart and mind. There may be one someday, but right now the perimeter of my inner landscape is wide open. Werewolves can easily get in and run roughshod through it. They can accost me with their howling and bite at me with their gnashing their teeth. They can cut and bruise me with heavy, clawed paws in their desperate attempt to share their pain, and to be seen and heard.  How can I go into the world when I am so utterly, tragically vulnerable to such unconscious and potentially hurtful energies? 

I've been relying on my guardians who surround and protect me when I am most vulnerable. You are one, in your angel form, Thor. Dad, Nana, Grandpa, your Aunties and Uncles, a few friends, they are all on guard to make sure I am safe while I heal - or to call on when there is an acute situation. How long before I feel I can handle the chopping cross-currents of an unpredictable world? How am I supposed to walk forward, into the work of rebuilding and resurrecting the new me when I know the cliffs are there, unmarked and waiting for my unsuspecting foot to step off of them?

Again, I find I solace, strength and sustenance as I turn to Grace. Pray for Grace to intercede to help me endure the unendurable. Pray for Grace to send a parachute or hang glider to help me land safely when I inevitably encounter a cliff. Pray for Grace to transform the werewolves into fuzzy golden retriever puppies that lick my face with kisses - and if they can't be turned into puppies, pray for Grace to take those werewolves far, far away. Pray for Grace to hold me close as I the world buffets me.  I fall on my fucking knees and pray for Grace like I've never prayed for anything before. Please let me heal, and in time, find joy again. Help me learn to live with the light of the love shining through me. Help me find the edges of all these pieces of me without too many disorienting tumbles into the abyss. Help me be fearless as I make my way toward conscious living and expanded awareness. I pray for Grace to help me select and place each new piece right where it needs to be so I may emerge from this experience anew with a greater capacity for love and joyful expression.

Please stick close by my side, Thor. This was a tough lesson to learn - that I don't have access to the skills I usually do to protect myself. It was a shock to encounter the brash worldly forces in their natural state of agitation, pain and need. It feels a little like a setback, and also a warning; be fearless, but don't be stupid. I hear you reminding me to call on my angels when shit goes sideways and that you will be there to make sure I have everything I need to return to safety. Some people might say that I need to close up a bit, not be so open and honest. But I can't do that. It would be a betrayal of where sorrow is leading me. It would be an untruth in the face of what I am learning, how I am becoming, through the experience of your death. 

It's up to all of us, Grace, You, Me and the trusted Guardians to see me through to what will be - and help define these new edges, these new boundaries inside of which I can heal and grow.

One breath, one moment, one day at a time.

I love you,

Friday, March 11, 2016

For Thor - 34 - The Day I Found Out...

It was a day very much like today - and maybe even exactly twenty years ago this week - that my life changed. Dad was off to work at the crack of dawn with his lunch pail packed and a hot breakfast in his belly. I had not been feeling well, so I went back to sleep for a while. Eventually, the early spring air beckoned me, and I headed upstairs to Nana's house for tea and some girl-talk. Aunt Sumati and Aunt Lakshmi were already there along with Swami Sarvaananda.

Morning coffee with Nana and my sisters is something to behold and is a treasured part of my life. We, collectively, are the beating heart of the family and all the branches. We laugh and cry together. We help each other work through the hard things that come our way. We make plans for gardens and share recipes for the latest all-natural homemade lip balm. It is a soul-enriching two or three hours that on occasion has stretched to become a lunch event.

On this particular morning, I found my sisters already draped across the furniture, sipping warm drinks from their mugs. The aroma of slightly burned toast and scrambled tofu & veggies lingered in the air. Nana greeted me with her patented warm Nana-hug and immediately offered me a drink and some breakfast.

I said yes, to the tea and no to the breakfast. I just wasn't feeling it and as a matter of fact, it was making me feel queasy again.  So I took my tea and joined the ladies on the sofas. Your cousins were there, little Mahi and Rani were playing. Aunt Lakshmi was pregnant with Madhuri.

We chatted as usual about all kinds of things, mainly baby talk since there was so much of that going around. Breastfeeding and weight-gain or loss and fitness routines were favorite topics. Like I said, girl talk.

The morning rolled toward mid-day, and the question of food came up. Aunt Sumati asked if I'd like to go with them to Lovingston Café for lunch. I was putting towels away in the hall closet and hollered back to her over my shoulder that I didn't think I would and that I had been feeling a little queasy. I didn't think a ride on Hwy 56 over the hills and around the curves would do me any good, and neither would a pile of nachos.

When I came back into the living room, Sumati and Lakshmi were both peering at me with eyebrows raised. The started peppering me with questions. How long I'd been feeling queasy? Was I off-schedule for my period? How were my boobs, were they big? Did they hurt? You know, more girl talk. I hadn't thought about it, I mean not even a little bit. Dad and I weren't planning for a baby, but we weren't stopping one, either. Gosh, could it be? The thoughts ran through my mind and must have shown on my face because Aunt Lakshmi declared loudly just before she and Sumati fell into near hysterical giggles…"You are soooo pregnant!"

By now, Nana was in on the action nodding her head knowingly and grinning from ear to ear. She offered me some crackers. And Grandpa, having come in from the office for lunch overheard the conversation, so he was in on it, too. He mentioned that he'd been having baby dreams, again. (A sign we Metro women have all come to respect, mind you.) A decree was made, we needed confirmation of possible baby/motherhood, and we needed it now! So we all (Grandpa, Nana, Sumati, Sarvaananda, and Mahi piled in Grandpa's old blue Volvo station wagon. Lakshmi drove Rani, Radha, Gopal and Poorna) made our way to Lovingston - over the hills and around the curves - in search of a pregnancy test and lunch. They assured me that by the time we got to Lovingston that I would feel like eating. And since the ladies in our family were experts at not only detecting but also in managing pregnancy, I believed them.

I just love our family, Thor. I mean it was a freaking Wednesday or something and the notion that we wouldn't ALL go to the store with me to get a pregnancy test in the middle of the day never crossed our minds. The tribe would go together and then have a pre-celebratory lunch since everyone already suspected the results of that test.

We got back home, and I nervously peed on that little stick. Hope was already alive in my heart and I prayed for a positive sign. I asked the family to wait for the news so that I could share it with your dad, first. Then we would confirm what everyone already knew; there was going to be a new member of the family, one that would define your dad and me anew. We would embark on a new adventure as a family. I would become a mom because of you, sweet boy.

I can tell you the whole time I carried you was magical.  It was full of beauty, love, goodness and life. We lived in a sweet little house, surrounded by woods that had a garden. Birds and countless little critters entertained us. Life was simple, pleasant and full of anticipation.  I sewed curtains and planted pansies.  I canned jelly and salsa with the bounty from our garden. Dad and I took long walks together in the evenings and talked about all the dreams we had for our life and you. We picked out names - one for a boy and one for a girl. We planned a home birth with a dear midwife and prepared ourselves for what that meant.

If I had to pick a single time of my life when things were just perfect, it would be the time I carried you and the whole first year of your life. It was transformational and exciting to me - even sleep deprivation and the uncertainty of being a new parent didn't matter. I fell so deeply in love with you and even more so with your dad that it surprised me. I didn't know love could be like that. I've had many, many wonderful times as love and life expanded me over the years. The birth of your brothers, each one bringing me to a new found depth of love.

I feel that lately, I've lost myself along the way, Thor. I got wrapped up in things that pulled me away from what is important. I let the squabbling of the world into my inner landscape and gave it say in how I live and where I focus my life's energy. What was it about that time, about ME, that made those months so perfect? What was I doing, thinking, saying… how was I that made the experience so sublime? This is what I need to remember as I move forward now.

Twenty years ago this week I got the best news of my life. I would be your mom. If I knew then what I know now, that we would only get to have you with us for nineteen years, I would still do it. Even knowing that pain of losing you would come, it wouldn't matter to me. The nineteen years I had of being your mom is one of the best things that ever happened to me. You are always and forever my first son and my one and only shining, Thor.

I love you so very much,


Thursday, March 10, 2016

For Thor - 33 - Ten Weeks

The season is turning. With each passing day tree buds swell, birds line their nests and the days grow longer. I find that I miss you very much, especially in the early spring evenings when you and dad would move out to the porch to pick a few songs out on the guitars. These moments, when you guys bonded through song and laughter, are treasured memories to me. Today marks a fleeting 1680 hours, a mere seventy days, or ten short weeks since you died. Gah!

Since you died…

Died. Died. Died…That fucking word is just so hard to get my head around. I am not used to not having my way. I'm not accustomed to problems that I can't fix. It's not acceptable that death has befallen my son and the finality that word brings spins me out of rational thought.

I am heartbroken that you are not here. As these milestones come and go; like the changing of the seasons, I am plunged into sorrow, and I attempt to comprehend the words "dead" and "died" and "death". The concept of death has been with me since I was a child - as it is with all of us. A warning from an adult tells me to be careful, that this or that could kill me. The passing of a grandparent or friend over the years brought the concept closer to my personal sphere. But this, your death, is something else entirely. Losing a child must be the closest thing to dying that a living person can experience. Plus we have the added agony of remaining here on earth to suffer death. We are not liberated to dwell in the ethereal, heavenly realm like you are. A large piece of me, the one that is you, has been cleaved away by death.   I'm a great mama tree that has lost one of her biggest branches in hurricane force winds. I will never be the same again, my shade, and shape permanently altered. Unbalanced and precarious in the wind, I seek a new center-point.

 I keenly feel the agony of your death now. They say this is normal. That I'm right on track for how this grieving shit is supposed to work. It's odd; I feel as though I am simultaneously getting better and hurting more deeply. Perhaps this is a gift of nature, which allows me to grieve without losing my shit; the worst, deepest pain doesn't come until I've regained a little strength so I can bear it. Can I? There are moments when I wonder.

The image of a volcano keeps coming to mind. The eruption blows fire, ash and red-hot lava sky-high obliterating the landscape and blocking out the sun. Hot magma cascades in deadly, yellow-orange streaks down the mountain side. It is voracious and ruthlessly consumes everything in its path. As the river of magma flows away from the heat of the earth's core, there are black formations where the surface begins to cool and harden. These pieces of crust are pulled back into the river of liquid rock where they collect more magma and rise once again to the surface where the air hardens them even more. And so, further away from the source, the hot liquid lava becomes stable enough that a person can walk on it. The natural world provides, once again, a good illustration of how I feel. The volcanic eruption of your death spews forth, continuing to emit fresh sorrow from the depth of my being. The searing hot pain of grief still runs hot and fast through my heart. As time has passed, there is more than just the immediacy of the pain.  There are the far reaches where sorrow has run that are beginning to calm or heal. This freshly healed surface is where I can once again allow me to interface with the world.  But make no mistake, just beneath the surface runs a molten river of loss that, now and then, breaks through the newly formed crust and I flat out, melt down. 

From day to day I don't know if I'll be up or down. Little things trigger deep emotions; seeing a young man in a nice pickup truck, a song, your tee-shirts in a stack in my room, your picture smiling at me and the knowledge that those smiling eyes are closed forever. I miss you more than words can say, and I am so sincerely sorry that you won't get to live your life. The "you" that is my son lives solely in memory, now. I curse the fact that I didn't indelibly carve each interaction with you in my mind. It is unjust that this fickle mind has subconsciously not committed or has purged thousands of moments with you. So, now you are even less whole since I must rely on the spotty accuracy of this brain. Photographs help. I treasure the snippets of video that have come my way. I love to hear your voice.

I'm kinda rambling today, Bubby. The attention span, along with the memory is a bit iffy these days; think Dorrie from Finding Nemo. Maybe it will get better with time. We can't push time any faster. It ticks along at its own pace. I'll try to be patient and will lose myself in this garden for a while. Drop by and see me, okay? Send a cardinal and sit a spell with me by the koi pond. The natural world helps me understand so much of what is going on. Besides, anything is always better when you are here.

I love you,

Sunday, March 6, 2016

For Thor - 32 - Desert

Yesterday I was the hopeful mourner, the beautiful Bohemian bereaved one. I had drunk deeply from a cool well of peace, opened my eyes Truth and my heart to Love. Today, I am thrown forcefully back into the raging sea, the searing desert; I am wretched with grief, once again. All I can say right now is...What. The. Fuck?

I cherish the times when I can access such profound and restful peace. It's easy and delightful to slip into the Presence and sit a spell. It's like I suddenly found an air conditioned ice-cream shop in the middle of the desert. I drop into that deep purple shade, taste something fresh and sweet on my parched tongue and take shelter from the searing pain of the sun on my cracked skin. My blood cools, and I relax my jaw. I didn't realize I had been clenching my teeth for so long. 

Sixty-six days of sorrow have passed since you died, Thor. These outcroppings of hope, scattered across what's left of my inner landscape, offer only temporary respite on this terrible expedition into the unknown. They rise out of the sea of grief and invite me to catch my breath, rest my legs, bandage my bleeding feet. I breathe all the way down to the bottom of my lungs. I can look around and take stock of the surroundings and smile from my eyes. Has it changed since the last time I looked from one of these vantage points? Am I making so-called progress toward being a whole person again? The clouds scud across the sky and a hawk circles above and shoots off over the horizon.

Once I've caught my breath and filled my heart with hope and grace, the waves of sand rise under my feet. My tiny refuge is submerged and once again I am adrift on this sea of sorrow. What. The. Fuck?

Every time I think I have found some solid footing, some toehold to begin an ascent back to my life, it turns out to be quicksand. It collapses under my weight and ultimately dissolves. I keep falling.

I use these temporary respites to brake and slow my descent the bottom of the abyss of grief. This, I'm convinced, is so I don't lose my mind. I wonder if there is an end to the downward journey. I keep thinking I am there, and then grief twists inside me again pushing me further into its grip. There are times I think my ribs are going to break and my heart will explode. At some point, the depth and the pressure will push me through and into something else, someplace else. I have an idea of what that will be. I've had a glimpse and a taste of what awaits me there. It appears that I'm going to find out for real. Sorrow has not yet revealed everything to me. It has not wrung out nor stretched and pulled me enough. There is still too much 'me' to be present in that vast space. 

When not entirely consumed with the dark abyss, I am gutted and gasping for air over you, Thor. Someone told me I am doing so well, that I am so strong. They told me how impressed they were that I haven't nose-dived into a dark place that would consume my soul. I can tell you why. It's because I am searching for you, darling boy, and you are not there in the dark. Expanded into Light and in Love, you reside there in the effulgence of God, not in the dark. The thing is, that for this physical being to be immersed in the light permanently, I have to relinquish my attachment to the story of your life. This is super hard to do since I am still doing the work of reconciliation. I must reconcile you as my son and you as a light being, along with me as your mom and me as a light being. And further, I must ultimately reconcile all of what I know as manifest creation as light and love. How's that for some seriously intense work? There is still too much to do, and it's why I can't stay immersed in I Am for long.

There is a trick of contrast here, too. Feeling bliss in the refreshing shelter of an ice-cream parlor in the middle of a desert makes being thrust back out into the sweltering heat that much worse. Now I know there is a frigging ice cream parlor somewhere and all I want to do is get back to it. But today, the doors are hidden, disappeared beneath the waves of sand and rubble.  Just awakening to the peace is not enough to stay there. I have to do the work. It makes being back in the suckiest part of grief so much worse by simply having been in that sublimely sweet and peaceful place.

I see how depression can take root in this vulnerable space. The task before me is beyond daunting. Life, as I was living it, is impossible with what sorrow has revealed in my soul. So now what? What am I supposed to do when I am so tired. I'm so deeply, deeply exhausted in parts of my being that I didn't know existed. Mindfulness and self-care are critical now, and I hope that simple observation will be enough to keep the darkness at bay. I have to fend off the consuming cancers of doubt and giving up that can gain ground if I let them. Using my lifelines is important now, even more than when your death was a fresh cut on my soul.

Today is a tearful, heart aching day. Nothing is okay, but I will put on my clothes and lift my eyes up. Dad bought me some flats and flower seeds and a little free standing greenhouse. I am going to get lost in those things for a while. It's not going to be easy with the gaping maw of sadness and sorrow sucking the ground out from under me.  But the sun is shining, and that will have to be enough for today.

My God, Thor. Did we really have to do it this way?

I love you,


Friday, March 4, 2016

For Thor - 31 - Snow-capped Violet

The past couple of days has been odd for me. I am in that no man's land of healing. I feel good enough to do stuff but pushing it to do too hard triggers a setback. The dusting of snow on the ground this morning, after we had been warming to spring-like temperatures, reminds me of this. Winter, this winter of my soul, is not yet over. I know it will never really be over. Every single day of my life from this day forward will have a tinge of sorrow cast over it. The shadow of your death hovers, ever present, always close, a permanent mark upon my life. All our lives.

What made the past two days strange was that in my conscious mind, grief was not the prevailing thought or emotion. There was room to think about other things; signing Chaz up for classes, cleaning out the refrigerator, calling the DMV, going to the office for a visit with my team. I realized as I was sweeping the floor yesterday that I didn't think about you continuously while you were alive. My mind was not preoccupied with your whereabouts or doings each and every moment of the day and night. Not thinking about you all the time was normal. I did stuff. I lived my life and took care of business. As we all do. We each have our paths that intersect in this marvelous thing we call family.

I found that I am uneasy with this new phase of separation. It takes some getting used to. I don't like that it makes me feel farther away from you. Picking up the pieces of my heart, soul and life that have been scattered to the wind and putting them back in order, without you here, is so unsettling. It's a little comical since I have no attention span. I have to work from lists and even then getting things done is an iffy business. But I did get stuff done. The important things that needed me to turn my attention to it once again.

One thing is clear, I am not the same. The "me" that existed on the morning of December 31 is not the same "me" that awoke this morning.  The reassembled pieces are making something new and different. Vastly so. And this is not a bad thing. I've been taking stock of the priorities that had filled my days before, my previous obsessions, cares, and woes. Not all of them are worth picking up, again. They are done for me now, and so I've cast them aside into the reject pile. Only a handful of things has arisen to be worth my attention and time. These will help me build the bridge to carry myself out of this blasted landscape which is defined by abject suffering and sorrow and into the land of harmonious, beautiful, and conscious living.

There is a message I keep getting that I am sure is from you, Thor. At least, it comes to me in your voice, and I feel you holding my hand as it echoes in my heart. My badass angel, as ever, is looking out for me. "Do only what brings beauty, harmony and benefit into the world, Mom. Live so that your heart sings and helps others' sing, too."

And so, I sweep the floor and care for your brothers. I take pictures, color seashells or write every day. I seek refuge in the deep abiding peace of I Am and let that force live through me. Learning how to move out into the bustling world with all its clashing cherished opinions and personalities remains a daunting prospect. I don't yet feel strong enough to engage fully in such raucous activity. I must find a course that allows for the expression of beauty and truth. I have to make way for my Bohemian Heart to beat wild, free, undaunted to its sacred rhythm.

When a person's entire inner landscape is obliterated, and all that is left is the vastness of the cosmos, it's a contracting, shrinking activity to pull life back into the daily structure. Making this shift, as I begin to engage in the activities of the practical side of life, takes much time and patience. I opened my work email inbox three days in a row, and my brain didn't try to crawl out of the back of my skull. I shopped for groceries with an eye toward future meal-planning  - not just cheese and crackers. These are good signs.

I have found a measure of peace and beauty in the bottom of the well of grief.  I am beginning the physical and emotional rehabilitation for reentry into the land of the living. But make no mistake, I will be doing it with a whole new set of priorities. 

Winter. Spring. Winter. Spring. Spring. Spring….
Like the tiny, brave violet in the grass, I will bloom into a new day.
Even caressed by winter's chilling kiss,
The new me will turn my tear-stained face toward the sun.

Thus, I will emerge to live and sing again.

I love you, 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

For Thor - 30 - Breath by Breath

I have found that your presence is everywhere. I see you diffused among the trees and how you are also the wind that sings through their branches. You are the inquisitive hawk that hovered in low-hanging thermals just above Aunt Lakshmi's and my heads the other day when we were walking. You are the serenade in the tree frogs chirping. You have expanded into the soft white light of the moon and stars that illumine the koi pond outside my bedroom window. You echo in my heart on the reverberation of the wind chimes in the garden.

Even as I feel you are everywhere, I miss the sweet face and cheerful laugh that belonged to you, my physical son. I miss the strong arms and the big bear hugs. I miss my sweet little boy, who you will always be, to me. I see you in my heart as that innocent, and yet wise, child. You came into this life with a vast depth of wisdom shining through those beautiful blue eyes. I am so profoundly sad that you will never walk in our door again. It's okay that I miss you and that I cry for you, Thor. I am not damaged or broken for the tears. Crying for our lost children, that's what we moms do, you know.

But now, I have caught a glimpse of the treasure that rewards the brave ones who will sit in the breathless deep. I have followed the breadcrumb path you've left along this trail of sorrow to the bottom of the well of grief. I sit here for countless, breathless moments open-hearted and fearless in the face of the pain. My heart wrenches and my eyes pour forth the tears that are the sacred waters of this well. Resting here, the query to the cosmos is pure…Who Am I?

You might wonder how I came to this query when so many other questions might be on the tip of my tongue. All of my other questions are answered. This is the only one left. The only one that matters. It is what sorrow is pushing me to embrace; a deep knowing of truth that transcends body and mind. It's beautiful and maybe a little ironic that death is what drives me to understand life.

Today, I feel less profoundly devastated than I have in a long time. I have accessed a deep, pervading peace, and I feel a calm assurance that All is Well. And this wellness is truly inclusive. It embraces all that I can think, dream, name, know or sense. And yes, it includes you and me, Thor.

I can't pretend to have constancy in this space, yet, but it is more present each moment, more accessible. There are still those spiraling emotions that wind deep into suffering. I am wretched over the loss of your life, and I lament over the fact that you won't be here to live alongside us in all the days yet to dawn. But now, I can appreciate this suffering as an expression of a mother's love. Nothing more. Nothing less. And once I've cried and dried my eyes, I can slip back beneath the stories of "mother" and "son" to rest again in that deep peace and love that connects us all.

And so I learn, day by day, breath by breath, thought by thought... how to live, again.

I love you,