I feel like I am the precipice of major change in my life. I read the cards, lay them out, one right after the other. Something has to give, but I feel paralyzed by something like too many choices. It's a first world problem. In my card layout, there is beauty and fear in the middle of sticks and wands and cups and...Grounding, that is what I wanted early on. Some ground beneath my feet. My life restarted after Lucia died. I can't integrate that person I was with the person I am now. It's not even that I want to, but in my mind's eye, there is a line. A deep line. I can see it. That line reminds me of the line in the sand that Bugs Bunny draws for Yosemite Sam.
I feel like I am falling. I dared myself to cross a line into the air. I threw myself into the abyss. It was all I knew, now I am searching for grounding.
I was someone else.
I sometimes like that someone else. I mean, frequently, I liked her. It took me many years to like her, despite the teenage angst and the anger I once held. She was ignorant and oblivious, but she was trying to find something resembling serenity. She searched and studied sacred texts, meditated on red rocks barefoot. She shaved her head, and wore beads, and she liked people. I'm not sure how I feel about me now. I don't like me or not like me. I just am a deeply flawed person who is trying to do the next right thing. Before I was a deeply right person doing the next flawed thing. I can see that clearly now, but I still liked her earnestness.
After my daughter died, the easiest part for me was that she died. I could wrap my brain around that. Death happens. It was a medical fact. She was not breathing. Her heart stopped. I understand science in that way.
I engaged in magical thinking, willing her back, praying for something like Lucia in a sunspot or a ladybug or just a sense of peace around me, bartering with God, the gods, the universe, anyone that would listen. No one took my trade, and to be honest, I wouldn't have believed them if they did. It took a long time to realize I couldn't wish her back, or pray her back, or find peace in her gone, but when I did realize it, there was a peace in that realization. Conversely, the hardest part was being so far from my spiritual and moral principles. To be so angry and sad that I could not be the best me, I could only be the angry and sad me. To know it and not be able to change it. To work so hard at being honest and kind with friends and family about where I was, but still hurting them in the process. Yesterday, the Dalai Lama's status update was "Many people think that patience is a sign of weakness. I think this is a mistake. It is anger that is a sign of weakness, whereas patience is a sign of strength."
I never thought patience was a sign of weakness, I just couldn't be patient. And I knew it was weak to be angry. And that heaped shame and guilt and all the other crap that makes us feel worse on top of me. I was anger personified. Daughter-death is a justifiable anger, I thought, I still think. All the anger I swallowed for years while I endured humiliations and heartbreaks, it all came up again when the doctor said my daughter's heart had stopped.
MY KID DIED, GODDAMMIT, GIVE ME SOMETHING TO THROW! SAY SOMETHING INSENSITIVE! HERE IS A LINE IN THE SAND, I DARE YA TO CROSS IT!
I was being as patient as possible. Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth. I hear that a lot these days. I think it is true, but it was a resentful petty growth in the beginning.
Fine. I'll grow. But I won't like it.
I only grew in the way I wanted, toward the other babylost people I met. They received my patience, but no one else. Another line I drew, I suppose. I don't resent it anymore, the growth that came after my daughter's death, it just came much much later than I initially thought. In the early months, I was able to see through this dimension. I saw all the death around me, the suffering of people. I couldn't see the normal people going about their business. The funeral homes on every corner were lit from behind, beckoning me to look more closely at the suffering and the death. People hold grief in their shoulders, in the bags under their eyes. They hold it in their haunches which slow them down. I could see it hanging on them. And that, I thought, was my growth, the seeing and empathy part. Maybe it was, but I had no tolerance for the unsuffering amongst us. And even though I could see it, I drew a line in the sand, and said, "I dare ya to cross this line."
Someone said to me a few weeks ago, "Do you want to be right or happy?" And that is where I am now, trying to choose happy, even though right now, I am not happy. I am saying all this because I have to live with the consequences of drawing lines in the sand, keeping people at arm's length, of being a flawed creature succumbing to the demands of grief on a daily basis. There was room for understanding, but I chose to ignore it, instead choosing to dwell in a rickety cabin alone on the edges of the wilderness writing manifestos about grief. When people made mistakes in my grief, I graciously told them that I needed space and never came back. I suppose I didn't even draw the line. The line cast by my daughter's death was a ravine, long and deep with rabid weasels in its basin. Maybe I am just slowly filling that line, trying to rebuild the gap between who I once was and who I am.