Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For Thor - 62 - Xanny's Day

Your little brother's birthday was Sunday. It's the first in this series of milestones we are facing without you here. It hurt to look around to see the family gathered to sing Happy Birthday to him and to miss your face. I could feel your presence with us as we laughed and visited, hugged and choked back tears. But it was not the same, and that's what breaks my heart. Xanny looks up to you so much. He told me that you were his best friend, so he feels he lost more than a brother the night you died.

Saturday was a day of emotional and mental preparation for me. I cried a lot that day and had to call Aunt Lakshmi (my on-call Saturday life-line) to talk it out for a bit. I keep little crafts around to occupy my hands and the active part of my brain while the emotional body churns through the heavy emotional work. There is a basket of seashells with a nearby collection of markers so that I can lose myself in the delicate whorls and curves of these oceanic offerings. I decorate them with paisley, stripes, and flowers. I have sewing projects ready to go and now, jewelry making. Nothing too elaborate as that would defeat the purpose of keeping my hands and head occupied so I can settle into the quietude that rests in my core, that place where I am weaving a new web of life. I made eight pairs of earrings while the tears silently slid from my eyes.

I allowed the sorrow of the moment to sweep me where it would. Denying it would only make it worse later, like on Sunday, and I wanted to be 100% present to celebrate Xanny's birthday with joy and love. So, I dived into the sorrow to express and cleared it before I could enjoy Sunday. This is one example of how I now manage the grief, Thor. I understand its presence in my life and how it can knock me over when I resist the powerful current. I am learning to artfully weave grief and joy into each breath so that I can live in balanced integrity. We are all figuring out the new road that lay before us in the aftermath of your death. Each of us finds the harmonious blend of action, reflection, honoring, expression, reserve, and tears that allow us to get up each day and take another step. Each day it's different, so we are learning to be very aware of our inner selves. This is new territory for a bunch of chronic do-ers like our family is prone to be. If we had a family motto it might be; We rock on. We walk-it-off. We rub some dirt in it and run the damned bases.

Not this time. There is no ignoring this devastation. We are forced to sit and listen to the inner ticking of our broken hearts with the horrible knowledge that nothing will ever fix them. We choreograph a new dance to the new beat; the beat that misses when it comes to the empty place you once filled. And somehow, we rearrange ourselves to collectively craft a frame around this emptiness, this hole in the melody of life, where we keep you alive; your place in the tune now carried by our memories and love.

Celebrating life is bittersweet with the specter of your death still hanging heavily over each day. But we walk ahead. I baked two flavors of elaborate cream-filled cupcakes that would make a French pastry chef proud. We prepared our home to receive family and friends for a party to honor life and love and fun and joy. It's the first gathering we've had since the night you died, so we swallowed hard and pushed through - for Xan. And for all of us.

Xanny proudly cranked up your stereo and subs to show his friends. You'd be proud of his elaborate set-up, and I can hear you cracking up as I cringe when the dishes rattle on the shelves from the bass booming. I cringe, but I love it. He's so happy to have this piece of you, and he's turned it into a legacy thing - his way of honoring and staying close to you and keeping you in his daily life. I love it when he tinkers with the set-up, looking for a better way to manage the sound and the power. It breaks my heart that this is what he has left of you - a stereo and your playlists. There are other things - some hats and memorabilia, bu the music is where he feels you. One night I came into his room to find him sleeping with your country playlist playing in his headphones. He'd been listening to this lullaby all night. Maybe he was calling you to visit his dreams and give him some big brother words of encouragement.

See? Bittersweet.
It's a good thing I can appreciate that kind of chocolate.

I love you,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

For Thor - 61 - Trust and Love Beats Fear and Doubt

As a phoenix rises out of the flames and ashes of its former self, there are updrafts, backdrafts, and downdrafts that alter the line of her flight to the stars. It's a circuitous route marked by drastic rises and falls in altitude and wild trajectories. I wasn’t expecting this, but I'm not surprised. Nothing about this journey is ordinary, so I've set no expectations for normalcy. I am firmly rooted in living an extraordinary existence, completely altered and new. It's so new; there are no maps, only the moment and what's happening now can guide me.

Something big clicked into place in the past two weeks. Something truly extraordinary. You see ever since you died on the road that horrible night, I continually reach out with my heart's voice or a tendril of thought longing to find you. There was a sense of desperation to these queries like I wasn't sure if you'd be there. I didn't know if I would reach out one time and find you gone, for good this time. Gone completely, as in never feeling your presence around me again leaving me with a handful of dusty memories that fade like old photographs. This fear of losing you, totally, was a big blocker for me getting back to work and stepping into life with zeal and passion. I was scared shitless that if I turned my attention too intently, or for too long, away from my sense of your spirit being that you would vanish into the ether forever. I felt it was my energetic focus upon you and our new relationship that held it in place. Without my effort, you would slip away to places where I could no longer sense you. No wonder I felt blocked!

One day I was crying my eyes out, my morning tea had gone cold and the day's schedule abandoned as a downdraft sent me sailing into the dark, depths of sorrow. Grief and fear had its grip on me again. Thankfully, I remembered the visualization which allows me to feel these feelings in a safe place of trust and love. I beat my metaphorical wings against the current of fear as I mentally recreated that hallway with the two doors; one door labeled Fear and Doubt, the other labeled Trust and Love. I calmed my breath and focused on the doors. I mentally moved toward the doors and reached out with my hand to open the door to Trust and Love. I stepped in. As my breathing slowed and the restriction on my chest lifted, I settled deeper and deeper into this space. I can experience sorrow here, and it doesn't wreck me. But best of all, you are right there! I heard your actual voice and felt your presence so strong and clear that I was taken aback, at first. You reminded me that all I have ever to do is just think your name, and you are there for me. You also invited me to consider LIVING from this space of trust and love. I don't have to leave through the door back into the hallway, back to living out of my head or worry.

You are with me, alongside me, guiding, helping and talking to me continuously. I feel this so clearly that I'm able to turn my mental attention to pick up some of the threads of my professional life. I don't have to worry about connecting with you anymore. Our connection is permanent, one that is defined by Love and that can never be broken or diminished no matter what plays out here on Earth. It's amazing how light and free I feel. Each day I step on the rebuilt foundations and walkways of my inner landscape, and I find they can bear my weight again. They don't wobble or threaten to tip me off into the sea of grief anymore. I still cry, often. The tears that fall are an expression of love and sometimes poignant sorrow, not pain or fear. At least not very much. And if I do lose my footing and the sea of grief threatens to take me down, I know that you are here to pluck me from the icy water and set me safely on the shore.

What's even more amazing is that as I learn steadiness in Being a BE-er (not a Do-er), I have greater access to and understanding of how we are all connected. All of us; you, me, your dad, your brothers, our family, friends, county, country, nation, globe, and the universe. From this state of Being, doing is almost effortless. The way unfolds before me as I root myself in the experience of this extraordinary life and the Love that binds us. The "to-do list" of the day is one that comes from the Divine, revealed before me like a rose opening, petal by petal. I just have to show up, with my empty cup. It runneth over with Grace.

I am so grateful.
I love you,

Friday, August 12, 2016

For Thor - 60 - Phoenix Rising

Well, Bubby. I feel better. Nothing a good rant and angry fist-shaking at The Fates to clear my mind. You rolled through it with me, my stalwart and steady champion. I'm glad I can write these things to you, wherever you are because the intensity of my emotional roller coaster is too much for most folks to take.

Anger is good in small doses and short bursts. When anger rises, it is highly concentrated and laser-focused which, while scary and intense, is good. I can let it rip, and it doesn't end up spewing forth at the wrong time on the wrong person. I can feel you right next to me, shaking your fist and saying "Yeah, what she said!" I'm angry because I love you so much, you know. Anger is a direct reactive state to being hurt, and I am deeply wounded down to my very core. When I yell at God or Death or Fate or even at you, Thor, it's like opening a valve for a white-hot force to blast up and from the bottomless deep. It gives voice to the fathomless, most painful anguish and burns away that which no longer serves. It may not be the gentlest experience, but it's authentic, real and ultimately rooted in Love. And it can be scary.

But that was a few days ago. My spiky red aura has settled back to reflect a calmer state in lovely shades of sapphire and turquoise. I am a phoenix rising out of the ashes of Anger-fire. I feel edgeless and free as I continue to explore what it means to cultivate a state of BEING that allows for a greater experience of love. This is the ultimate work, the soul-work, that we are doing together. I am grateful to all that is in and around me that helps me expand, explore and express and ride these waves of grief, love, anger, sorrow and joy, in turn.

The other work is the ongoing reconciliation of the higher understanding of BEING and LOVE and this mama's broken heart. Each day, you and I have a little chat - or ten - as I work my way toward integrating my spirit knowing with the part of me that is still a profoundly sad mom whose lost her beloved son.

I used my new visualization tool to help with this. It works great, not only for when I feel triggered but for connecting with you at will. As I get better at it, it's easier just to reach out with my heart-voice and talk to you. And you're always right here. All I have to do is think your name, and you're here. We are connected by a greater Love than we know.

There is nothing fair about the death of a child from the perspective of a parent. It is the absolute worst nightmare. Realizing that good things can arise out of the fallout is hard to do at first. But it is inevitable for me that positivity, personal growth, expansion of awareness and a better understanding of my place in all this is what I am gaining. Even when I tell Death to fuck-off, it's perfect and beautiful. Authentic expression (in thought, word or deed) will lead me to find the gems of Truth, Love, Peace and Joy that were hidden in the rubble inside. They are here inside of me. I pluck them from the ashes and hold them up to the light that shines from that part of me that is God. I may never have found them if not for the devastation of your death. That tragic event blew everything away leaving the edges of these gems exposed and waiting for a glimmer of light to spark them to life.

So, I have become a miner in search of the best treasure - everlasting Truth, Love, Peace, and Joy. It's all inside already. All I have to do is BE still and SEE. 

No doubt anger and I will dance our fiery Tango again, but that's a sacred part of this journey, too, Thor.

I love you,

Monday, August 8, 2016

For Thor - 59 - Dead is a Four-letter Word

Today is August 8. One month from today will be your birthday. For the first time in all these years, I dread September 8th and the pain of facing that day without you. I woke up this morning with a heaviness upon me to which I am becoming all too accustomed. It sits upon my chest and wraps itself around my thoughts. It pries up the slices of sanity, calm and acceptance I've pieced together in some weird flotilla to reveal that which will never heal - a mother's longing and my shattered heart. My ribs strain against the bands of sorrow that prevent them from expanding with a refreshing, cleansing breath.

But I rise to greet the day with resolve, and I move into the daily practices that afford me some small measure of comfort and, let's face it, basic functionality. Meditation is hard to today. The mind scampers about in a frantic search for something that feels SOLID, something that can be grasped by this mortal mind…I dunno, like maybe a big hug from you. That was what did it this morning, what triggered the wracking sobs and put me on my knees. I want to hold your hand and give you a hug. I want to hear your voice and feed you breakfast before you head out to work. I miss the sound of you saying "Hey, Mama!" in just that certain way you did. I want you to be here being a pain in the ass as you could sometimes be. Yeah, I miss that, too.

You had such a good life here. I mean you had everything, and now you are gone. I JUST. DON'T. GET. IT! What the hell was it all for? Why did you have to die?

Yes, I am back here, again.

There are no fucking answers. And I want them. I want to know how it is that a beautiful, healthy, smart, friendly, loving, caring, funny, witty, kind and all-around awesome guy with everything going for him can be dead. How the fucking shit is this possible? I don't want to accept it. I don't want to deal with it. I don't want to have to learn to fucking live with it! This grief is awful, painful, tragic stuff. What does it all mean, if the brightest and best among us can up and wink out like a distant star, leaving only a trail of light to sail through an empty sky as a reminder of that life? It all seems so damned pointless to be here, duking it out, in the muck and mire. Why do we bother? What's the dang point? And I don't mean me and my life, Thor, I mean, what's the point of the whole thing? What's the point of all this struggle and drama in this world and the next? What does it matter in the end?

It doesn't. That's what. It doesn't matter in any way shape or form.

It's going to be a long month for me with a lot of ups and downs. The day you were born is so very special to me. It's one of the most important dates in my life. I don't know how to face that day without you, surrounded by all these memories, stories and the unspeakable heartbreak that echoes across the void made by your passing.

Yes, I still feel you here. I know you're as close as my own heart. But dammit, I really, really loved it when you were here with us playing the game alongside. And it was such a good life, too! Why did you have to leave it? Did you mean to go? Was it destiny? A date with a fate that neither of us could stop? Or was it just a tragic act of teenage foolishness that snuffed out your life in the blink of an eye? There are no answers, I mean real, tangible answers. Not faith driven supposings found in a dusty scripture that invites me to relax and rejoice because after all we'll be reunited. When? Where? How? There are no answers, not really. I just have do deal with the hard fact -- you are dead.

Dead is a four letter word. And Death is a fucker, an unfair, unscrupulous, disregarding, blind-ass fucker. Ha! Take that o' Reaper. Kiss my ass! I'm not scared of you. Holy blood and sacred tears flow from my heart and the gaping wound where you blew a hole in it the night you took my boy.

When you were born, Thor, I stepped between the worlds to bring you here. All mothers do. Labor and being born is a dicey business. Let me tell you what; I would step between the worlds and go into the maw of Hell itself to find you, to bring you home. I used to be able to do so much for you, but now I'm useless and helpless in the face of this horror. You are dead, and I can't help that.

What I end up making out of this whole experience is yet to be seen. When I sit quietly and do my inner work, I can find some peace and even a spark of joy. It's when I see our family from the outside perspective, and the Thor-sized hole stares back at me, empty and dark, that it hits me. And when I think of your dad and me and how your birth turned us into a family, making us parents and teaching us about a new kind of love, I just break down and sob. When I see all the beautiful experiences you are missing with people you love and who love you, I find new tears to shed, and they fall wetly onto the photo of your sweet face. We miss you more than words can say. We all need you here, and you're gone. Just gone, and no one can tell me where you are. There is no way to know. It's all faith and guesswork. That doesn't cut it for me, today.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be better. For today, I'm mad at Death, and you can tell him I said so.

I love you,

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

For Thor - 58 - Be. Just Be.

The past week is full of intensity. Emotion, exhaustion, exploration, and expansion all played a role in the experience. We went on a camping trip with your brothers and your Starr as the seven-month mark of your death ticked past. We strolled on the boardwalk on a warm summer night, each of us enjoying the moment and each of us nursing the deep wound in our hearts; the wound inflicted by your profound absence from our daily lives.

By now I thought I'd have a better handle on what's happened and what it means for the family and me moving forward. But I don't, not really. I've learned to put on a good face and get out in the world more. I go to work, and somehow the memory of how to do my job controls my motions and speech. But I am not fully engaged in the action. My attention is still rooted in the bottom of this well of grief as if I am tethered here by a universal umbilical cord. My heart is still in the depths while my body begins to resume activity. I am slowly integrating back together, and as this process moves in its unstoppable pace, I will emerge from these bandages and out of the well with a new resolve. This work is in motion; the healing has begun. The transformation of me in the wake of your death will reveal something new and wondrous.

I had a conversation with the deepest parts of my subconscious mind the other day with the help of a hypnotherapist. We were on an explorative journey to get some clarity for me moving forward, seeing where I was blocking the natural, healing current of energy and how I can still keep my heart open when the world triggers the pain. It brought me great comfort to know that I've been listening to this voice for some time now. The insights and words of wisdom were shared more directly than I am accustomed to, but I felt a deep resonance with what I learned. After all, it came from my highest self and is intended for my highest good.

One of the best new tools I gained was a way to allow myself to experience the sorrow of your death in a realm of trust and love. There is a method of visualizing a wide hallway bathed in soft, white light. At the end of the hallways is a doorway emblazoned with the words "TRUST" and "Love". It is important to examine the qualities of the door. What kind of wood is it? How does the frame look? How do the words appear on the door? What color are they? What kind of letters are they? How does the handle look? How does it feel in my hand as I turn it to step through the door? Take some time to look around and feel the qualities of the space of Trust and Love. How does it feel, taste, look and smell? What do you I see? When I feel fully emersed in the experience of I let the sorrow expand and bloom. I allow the tears to come, I allow myself to feel the pain and breathe into it, much like labor pains and labor breathing when giving birth. As I breathe steadily, allowing the sorrow to express itself, I tune into the love that surrounds me there. I trust in its power to protect and sustain me, even when it is the greatness of this love that I have for you, Thor, is what allows for that spurs the agony of the sorrow. Now I can step back through the doorway and into a place of calmness and equanimity. In this way, when I encounter a triggering event, I can stop and allow myself to sink into sorrow as deeply as I need to go. This is so critical to healing as it allows the emotional body to express itself in a safe and healthy way. I can breathe into the total trust and love that surrounds me in this space. I can then visualize stepping out of the sorrow surrounded and strengthened by a cloud of trust and love and back into the world. 

Triggering events are sneaky ambushers, so it's great to have a tool I can use anywhere. The exercise takes a few minutes to do, and I can step into a powder room or adjoining office or even out to my car for a short break while I work through the moment.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with your brothers about the hypnosis session and what I learned. There was so much rich information that ranged from the specific directives (stop drinking coffee, limit to one glass of wine a day, taking certain vitamins, etc.) to some very high-level life purpose kinds of things. I feel better about my place in this story, now. I understand more about how I am supposed to be and how that is so much more important that what I do. As you well know, I am a chronic Do-er. I am shifting into being a Be-er. It's quite a change for me, and it would explain why I can't get any mental traction behind DOING anything. It's not time yet. I need to gain some steadiness in being a BE-er. To support this BE-ing state I prescribed myself a few things: a simple, consistent Yoga practice that includes Japa Yoga, Pranayama and Hatha Yoga. One direct quote from the audiotape of the reading captures the overall theme, "Cultivate a sense of BEING that allows for a greater experience of LOVE. The state of Being under all action is all that is important. Shift away from doing to being."

I was a little perplexed at this notion at first, unsure how I am supposed to live when I am resolutely trying not to DO anything. I don't have to worry about it. I just have to "Show up with an empty cup. See what gets filled up." In other words, don't worry about all that. The path that opens up before me will have its calling and each moment its perfect actions. I don't have to plan them out or worry about them. I also learned that I don't have to be too concerned about knowing my direction out of all this. I am still in a state of confusion for a purpose. I am a chronic Do-er after all. And if I have a clear direction, I will go. And do. With zeal. Because that's what I know. I am being kept in a cloudy space so I can learn to BE, better, I'll emerge slowly.  Similar to how you slowly unwind bandages off a burn patient.

I admit it's hard to focus on the golden rays of light and silver linings that shine forth from the dark cloud of your death. How can I find beauty in such a horrible tragedy? The beauty is in my heart as it is cracked open for the light to shine forth. The beauty is in the love I feel for you that grows every day and overflows through my eyes and into the world as I gaze upon it. The beauty is in allowing this mother's broken heart to bleed the tears of sorrow that are good and right. The beauty is in stepping into the Grace of God and feeling that blessing each moment, even as I miss your smiling face and bright eyes.

I know I have only to think your name, and you are here with me. I feel the weight of your arm on my shoulder and I know you are holding me close, under your wing. I am grateful for the little messages and signs you send; they keep hope alive when grief threatens to choke me out.

All that matters is love. 

I love you,