I’ve heard memoirs described as a roadmap for being a human. Memoirs tell others what it felt like to have a certain experience – the good ones don’t claim to be the authority on that experience but they are bold and certain in their own particular truth and honesty. A good memoir, in my opinion, when it’s finished, convinces you that it will be like this for you too perhaps, when “it” happens. Or, I know you know what I’m talking about because you felt it, and maybe, just maybe, you couldn't put it into words, so here the words are for you, finally.
For me and what became my cancer memoir, writing about Phil and the long process of his sickness, degrading health, the shock and even surprise when his death itself occurred ~ both the certainty that the suffering would eventually end and the hope and confusion about when, why and how, those parts came relatively easily. The way the world always seemed to be cast in shadow offered endless perspectives to draw from for insight and commentary. But now, most days there’s not much else I can say about it, Phil’s death.
Now I am in the land of grief – the process, the journey, the wandering. There are no more facts or figures to report. There are no more updates or data to interpret. The need for my clinical skills is long past and I am left with the plain story of survival, coming to grips with the fact that my life will forever be divided into “before” and “after”. Even my children are moving on in their grief, with the resilience of youth and the blessing that time affords them in the abbreviated economy of their lives. My old life ended at the same moment that Phil’s did and it will never come back. The loss of a spouse has been described as the loss of one’s “present” ~ I so totally get that.
I look around now and can’t help but see how people move through life as though their days aren’t numbered. As I continue to hear news of deaths or tragedies and how they shock people into another mental state, “the shallowness of sanity” is exposed again and again, just as it was for me. As
went “through the looking glass”, so too did I undergo a radical change in
perspective. There is no going back to
life as I lived it. There were a
multitude of things I set down in order to carry the weight of Phil’s illness
and death and I realize I don’t ever need to pick them up again. I consider that insight a divine gift, a silver
lining to all of this – a very costly, but divine gift. Alice
How incredible too that this new mental state offered me an opportunity for tremendous growth! As my wandering gains focus in this new headspace I have choices I get to make. I have been given a fresh start, a new perspective, and what lies ahead is my future, full of possibilities and endless potential. I’ve been blessed with another precious gift from this wreckage. Yes, the wreckage remains but I am learning to dive it better with each descent. I'm finding that I can come up for air more often and for longer periods of time. Yes, I am grieving the loss of my "present" life but what I have gained is the expanse of the rest of my life.
For me and my house, the rest is still gloriously, unwritten.