Saturday, February 4, 2017

For Thor - 80 - Cash Out

Hey, boyo.

It's clear, cold and sunny this morning; crisp. But there aren't any birds at the feeders. I'm not sure why. Maybe the cat has been prowling, again, and has them skittish and scurrying for their sanctuaries in the sky. I know how they feel; one minute hopping and pecking along and the next thing there is a shadow looming over me and looking to swallow me whole. 

This is how it's been this first month of the Year of Seconds. One would expect for it to feel safer, easier, freer to be a year away from the tragedy that ripped you from our lives. And in many ways, it is. I have some experience being a bereaved mom, now that the utter shock has worn off. It's mellowed like a river into a deep and lazy course. Grief still has me gripped in its current only now the waters have wisdom in them, they are not the white-capped rollers that dashed me on the rocks of my own broken heart those first terrible months. Some days I don't cry, I am able to carry the weight of your death as a part of me. It's braided into the fabric of my life, into how I prioritize daily tasks and how I spend energy. Over the year, I've certainly changed my capacity to live with grief has deepened and widened along with that flow.

And then there are times when that river is squeezed by canyon walls that loom impossibly high, blocking out the sun. Pressed into these tight spaces river turns frothy and treacherous, again. I am once again brutally tossed, submerged and tumbled by the current that drives me through that canyon. Riding the whitewater is something I'm used to, but it feels more intense now that I'm not doing it every day. Perhaps it is because of the contrast between the "good days" that makes the bad days feel worse. Early on in this journey, I measured each moment, hour and day in varying degrees of heartache and bewilderment as I sought to find refuge in the decimated landscape of my inner being. Now I am a veteran with the scars of battle crisscrossing my body. I know what's at the bottom of the well of grief and have found peace there when I am able to move beyond the wailing of my heart's longing.

This week a check came in the mail. It was the life insurance payout from your policy at work. We knew it was coming. We had to wait a year until your brother was eighteen and could receive the funds. Even with a whole year to know this day would come, I was not prepared for the emotional storm that hit when I saw that check. Your brothers, dad and I had discussed ideas on what to do with it. We made some plans that were not too specific, but at least we'd had a conversation. But when it came down to actually acting on those plans, I lost my shit.
Dad called in the troops to come help pick up the pieces. Nana and Grandpa were here in a flash wrapping me up in big hugs while I sobbed and sobbed.

That check felt like so many things all at once. But the first thing I felt was a terrible finality. It's the last thing time the world would recognize you officially. Thor Stish, as a person, with accounts and all the things that make up a life had wrapped up his final piece of business. Everything has been settled. I felt that you had been cashed out, processed out of the system and removed from the rolls. This was it. I couldn't stand the idea of divvying up the funds (even though I know we will) at first. I just wanted to let that check sit a while, resting, whole and intact. I need to catch my breath and open my broken heart to be able to receive this gift - a year later - from you.

I can feel you smiling from the other realms knowing you were able to leave a little something to help us financially. And I am completely amazed that a young man at nineteen years old had a life insurance policy at all. I mean if you were to poll nineteen-year-olds, I am pretty sure most of them wouldn't even think about it. Even so, it's bitter, bitter, bitter to hold a check in my hand when all I want is to hold you in my arms again. So the tears fall.

After Nana and Grandpa left I heard you ringing the chimes outside the window on a windless evening. And you gave 'em a good shake, too! I smiled a crooked, shaky smile through the wracking sobs. It calmed me to know you were there, lending support and holding me close. I'll be okay, but it takes some time for me to get my feet back under me after the river runs high and wild and crashes me on the rocks.

The arrival of the check was the big slammer on what had already been a hard week. My heart was sore, and I there was no exterior reason for it. I miss you, plain and simple. And I miss you more each day, but my capacity to carry this weight is greater, too. So I walk ahead with this giant longing in my heart that continually reaches out to you, in search of connection, broadcasting a message of love. It was in this aching place that a series of Thor sightings took place. There is a young man in Scottsville who drives a truck like yours, wears his hat, sunglasses, and beard like you and even wears an optic green shirt with reflectors like you did at work. I see him a few times a week on my way to town, and every time my heart leaps to my throat, and my eyes are transfixed to "see" you like that. Sometimes I end up crying all the way to town and sometimes, I smile and say "thanks." It just depends. This week Chaz saw him, too, and we both felt it hard. I was glad to have his hand to hold until I got my breath back.

On Tuesday we had to put Arturo down. His health had been failing, and it was time to set him free. It was hard on all of us to make this decision, and it was really hard for your dad, especially. We love and miss Arturo, he was a sweet pup. But the death of our four-legged family member triggered us to remember the pain of losing you, too. It's compounded and amplified, dredging up so much more than a sad farewell to our fur baby. I felt you hovering nearby. Maybe you met Arturo at the rainbow bridge to throw some sticks and scratch his super soft ears. I know he'd be happy to see you.

I'm not sad to see this week come to an end, and I think you'll agree, it's with good reason! This morning I'm grateful for this time to unpack my feelings in a note to you. It's been too long since I sat and shared what's on my mind and in my heart. Of course, you probably already know even without me writing it down. But it helps me get clear and feel lighter. I'm not sure when I'll write again, but know that each and every moment of every day, I am open to sensing your presence.

Our new relationship is different and satisfyingly rich in many ways. But I do long for your physical presence. I long to hear your laugh and get a big hug. I'd be thrilled to have you walking across the living room in muddy boots, leaving a trail of dirty clothes and dirty dishes in your wake, if it meant you were back. But those are foolish longings that cause so much pain, and unfortunately, I fall into them often. I do inner work to stay focused on the love we share and am using that to keep our connection open free of the narrative of longing and aching over lost time together.

'Til next time, sweet boy.
I love you,