Journey back

Along the journey of the last few weeks there have been distinct phases with an underlying current that entwines them.
It has been 8 weeks since Willie died. For all intents and purposes, the world shifted on February 1st.
Initially, the sense of surreal existence was paramount to all other emotions. It was impossible to be a reality because it was so unfathomable that what had happened could, in fact, have happened. I remember now that I would wake up every morning and look outside and be honestly amazed that another day had dawned – I was awestruck that the sun would continue to rise when NOTHING was as it should be in my world.
After a couple of weeks, the shock seemed to settle – seemed being the key word here….more on that in a bit.
Still incapable of the most basic day to day functions beyond necessity. My youngest son got to school and had a lunch in his backpack but I barely recall a single day or the acts that I must have attended to to make that happen. I was in a fog of thinking that if I just got up everyday and did what had to be done then eventually it would start to get easier and things would return to “normal”…maybe a new normal, but strongly resembling my previous normal.
Just past the one month mark and I was hit with an almost debilitating sense of despair and feeling that it WASN”T going to get better…that, in fact, I was feeling worse every morning instead of the same or even better. That maybe I would never be able to do the mundane life tasks that are an integral part of us all. Maybe I would never again be able to plan a meal, grocery shop and prepare said meal. There were so many times that I would stand in the grocery store with milk in my basket and stop and have no idea how I got there or what I needed or what to do. I would find a quiet aisle because I knew the tears couldn’t be held back. Tears that I shed for the simple fact that I wasn’t able to function and seriously feared that I never would be able to again.
I started to put simple things in my phone calendar with reminders because I would forget them. My short term memory was shot… my ability to make even the most simple of decisions, gone.
I finally decided to see a counsellor because I was quietly considering that maybe I was in a state of needing help myself.
The only help given from her was that I wasn’t abnormal in my feelings of “it’s not getting better – it’s getting worse”. Good to know but didn’t change anything!
The past 2 weeks have seen a decided shift in my perspective…everyday is still hell – the worst nightmare that I can’t wake up from every morning…but the despair is edged with a slight sense of a counter balance of hope.
The hope is a carefully examined and intricately dissected emotion…I have always been a “glass half full” type of person and this has so profoundly impacted that base in me.
To feel not true hope yet, but a sense that it is there and palpable and able to be found eventually is a turning point for me.
I have discovered a new truth today… so simple yet so strong of a pull for me with how it resonates within my soul….
I have been searching and mourning my inability to conceive of being “me” again… to even be able to conceptualize that it will happen. The truth is – it won’t happen – I won’t ever be the “me” I am struggling to regain.
I will never have all 4 of my children alive and with me in this lifetime. I will never be the Dawn who doesn’t know the pain of seeing her child’s lifeless, empty body.
The “me” I’m searching for doesn’t exist anymore – it’s a futile search that can only end in despair at not finding her.
The truth is that I need to learn to live my life as me now…the me that has experienced the loss of a life I saw come into this world through me…the me that will always flinch a little when someone asks how many children I have…the me that will always have that memory of when the world shifted when I heard the words that my son was dead…the me that had to go tell my other sons that their brother had actually done what we had tried so hard to stop him from….the me that saw their lives irrevocably changed in that split second and to know that they will never be the same again either.
I miss him so much…the pain is so much more than I thought I could bear…nothing will change either of those truthes…learning to live with that everyday and know that those truthes make up who I am now is key to be able to go on… to go on and find the “me” that still has a life and will live it.

Stones

Vancouver Island, and Victoria more specifically, has been, for my entire adult life, a place I run to for comfort, for security and for a place to rejuvenate my soul and bring clarity to my head when a decision is needed or emotions need settling.
The sights and sounds of Victoria and the surrounding areas are filled with memories of times past and the milestones of my life that are marked by these visits. Times of immense pain and turmoil in my life when I needed the calm of the ocean waves and the moon on the water…the winds (always blowing it seems on Dallas Rd!) to soothe my mind and allow my soul to focus on true clarity of needs and direction.
Also, times of joy and happiness… I don’t always use the island as a place to find peace from strife…many times it is also where I go to enjoy life and celebrate the happiness that I have found. Trips with my boys, the giggles (and screams) at the bug zoo… feeding the “wild” seals at the Oak Bay Marina… wandering the beaches and watching my children play in the same tidal pools and waves that held me captive in my youth – hours lost exploring and imagining! Driving around the town and pointing out my childhood memories…leading to chats and questions…. sitting in the car outside a past family home explaining skeletons in the closet and impressing upon my boys that we always have choices in life that we can choose to make that can enrich our lives and increase our happiness… we are in control of the directions our lives take for the most part.
Always when I went by myself for a “searching” journey, the boys would ask for a token souvenir… I would get them a little something each but always I would bring stones from the beaches…picked specially for them and unique to what they spoke to me as to which one was for which…. The ocean holds for me a magical quality that speaks to me on a most basic level of grounding and calm. The stones, smoothed and shaped by the waves hold that sense of wonder and the potential for change.
Last December I visited the island. My son was still in the hospital and I was needing a much long awaited chance to try to relax and get away from everything for a weekend and re-charge. With the stress of the last few weeks and months weighing heavily I decided to go for a run in Oak Bay….I adore running in Oak Bay; the architecture, the trees and the rolling beaches along the edge of the ocean are soothing to me in a way nowhere else is. On this day the sun was setting quickly as I headed out. I ran, as I always do there, with no thought to speed or distance or direction. I just go and follow where my feet and my heart lead. Turning corners and jogging at whim almost. Taking time to really see the houses, the yards and the trees. Stopping to stare up through branches of hundred year old trees and catch a sense of the history and the things that trees must have been witness to … if only nature could talk! I always have a sense of what direction the ocean lies and eventually meander my way to the shores and the beaches. On this night in particular, I went much farther than I had thought or intended to. When I broke out from the residential streets and came upon the beach I found myself a couple of kilometres further away than I had thought I was. The sun was completely gone by now and the moon had started to rise. It was huge and yellow and full and hanging low in the sky – reflecting on the water in the most amazing way! My body, for once, was feeling good and not sore from the run so I strode on…heading back in the direction of Oak Bay village.
I rounded a curve in the road and looked to my right to where the ocean was. I was stopped in my tracks by the sight… a tine expanse of beach, no more than 50ft across and maybe 25ft deep…. the waves softly lapping on the rocks of the beach and the moon so huge and reflected in the water…. I did something I almost never do.
I stopped my run.
Went down to the beach and took my shoes off… sat at the very edge of the water and looked up… the moon drawing my gaze.
I sat and I cried… for the sheer unfairness of life sometimes. For my son who couldn’t see past his pain and just wanted out….for my other boys who were being torn into pieces by it all. For myself as well. For how hard it was for me to admit that I didn’t know what to do. For the simple fact that I was doing everything I knew to and it didn’t seem to be doing any good.
I looked down and saw the rocks and started to pick them up, examining them and searching for rocks for the boys… this time with a difference though. This time, I knew the rocks were for me. Representative of the boys and myself. I would hold them close and they would remind me of this moment. The moment when I searched my soul, sitting on that beach, and decided that no matter how hard the choices would be and how much they would challenge me, that I would do what I needed to in order to have life make sense again.
After an amazing weekend that December, tempered with bouts of breakdowns and tears, I returned home and settled in to make sense of my thoughts. My desire to move to the island has been present for a long time now and was even stronger after that weekend but it was pushed to the back as we dealt with Willie’s mental illness and the impending holiday season (the Christmas that I just wished would go away to be honest!). The stones I had gathered sat on my bedside lampstand and I looked at them nightly; reminding myself that there had been those few moments of clarity on that beach and that it all would be OK.
It has turned out so far from OK…returned to the island recently and the same sense of calm, ease and peace surrounded me from the moment I drove off the ferry. Sometimes life sends you a message…it’s our choice to hear it or not.
The stones tonight… held in my hands during meditation… providing clarity and the sense of new direction.

The Dance

teetering, balancing, wavering
a slight tip to one edge, followed by
softly, a lean back
the sway tips and re-balances
the motion held in check
tenuously and barely contained
the ability to maintain the dance between
despair and hope
precariously held in the grasp of the soul
ever doubted

Sunshine and snow

So walking near my house the last couple of days and amazed at the clarity that a simple walk can bring… the way that when you open your eyes to what’s in front of you and see, really see, that you hear what the universe is trying to tell you….
Case in point: beautiful bright sunshine streaming down on the bitterly cold and snow covered ground. Two such extreme and opposing aspects of nature. Existing perfectly together to create an outstanding experience for the senses.
Sunlight bright enough to make the use of sunglasses necessary while at the same time, air cold enough to cause a sharp intake of breath and oh so chilly fingers!
The contrast bringing clearer to me the simple fact that the two extremes can exist closely without either diminishing or enhancing the other. Separate yet intertwined.
In much the same way that grief can exist within life. Slowly awakening to the awareness of the possibility that joy and sorrow can exist side by side. Both having a place but able to co-exist with a balance that allows life to go on and move forward. That experiencing grief and loss doesn’t mean the end of any joy or hope for the future.

truth interrupted

Stuck firmly in truth! Have had oodles of thoughts and an interesting meandering through my own mind and beliefs this past week on the subject of truth.
I’ve come to the conclusion – and to be clear, this is my conclusion…right or wrong, it’s mine so continue at your own risk 😉 – that there are varieties of truths. Some are universally accepted and almost irrefutable really. The obvious ones…if you hold a rock in your hand and let it go, it will fall to the ground (if you’re on earth, not talking space here people). Whether you are a physicist or not, you can’t argue that truth. Another easy one to accept….the wind blows, the clouds move. You don’t need to know why or understand wind patterns, it just happens – and it looks cool, but I digress….
So, there are simple, accepted truths. We don’t think about them or fight within ourselves to decide if we should believe in them or not. They just ARE.
Oh, if the rest of life could be so easily categorized and organized and just BE. But, alas, it’s not. We are sometimes slapped in the face with a truth that is of an entirely different variety.

Sometimes we are faced with truths that we not only don’t understand but that we don’t want to accept and embrace and live with. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “that which we resist, persists”. The basic premise is that the more we push away something we don’t want to have as a truth in our lives, the more it pushes in and makes itself obvious. Until…inevitably, we must accept it to be able to move forward.
I remember when I was little I was convinced that I could fly if I tried hard enough and believed enough. It didn’t matter to me that everything around me proved my belief wrong (hello ground!) – I KNEW I was right. Hanging, 15 feet off the ground from a tree branch, barely able to hold on with my fingers, I was certain that this time I wouldn’t hit the ground so hard that my knees would feel like they were going to shatter. Well, eventually, I accepted that , yes…I would always hit the ground, hard, and it would hurt…and I would never fly. I was 10 when that day came – ok, I was a slow learner – or an eternal optimist! I stopped jumping out of trees and learned how to climb down so I didn’t get hurt.
I find myself again now at a point in my life when I am faced with a truth that I so do not want to be in my life that I am doing everything I can to have it NOT real.
Slowly coming to realize that in order to move forward and heal I have to accept it. Not on a logical level…but on a heart level. As an intelligent, articulate (mostly;) ) woman I am able to understand on an intellectual base that what has happened is reality. On an emotional level…nope…I am that stubborn 10 year old hanging by my fingertips – believing with every single cell in my body that if my faith in myself is strong enough I WILL fly. That I can make the undeniable truth not real by my will alone.
So, when am I going to let go, hit the ground and accept that it hurts like fucking hell and I need to accept it? I don’t know…and that’s another truth I don’t like….

Truth

Trying to move forward…just had my second and final sitting for my new tattoo….a permanent reminder not only of my beautiful and amazing son who isn’t with me anymore but also an “out there” declaration to myself more than anything of the need to embrace what is.
The name of this blog is embedded within the tattoo and these words were chosen by me months ago as they struck a chord with the changes and the growth I had been making and was continuing to make in my life.
I had chatted with Willie about the need for an upcoming tattoo…yes, they are landmarks for me. Each of them marking a significant point on my journey. His thoughts on “truth freedom joy” were blunt and that he was happy for me but that it was impossible for him to find that. We spent alot of time talking about that. I spent hours trying to convince that he just had to stick around and it would work itself out with some help. He wasn’t able to see that.
This new tattoo is a compilation of the words that I hold so dear that Willie was so incapable of believing could apply to him as well. The imagery in it is “him”… the daisy I always said he was to me; wild, so beautiful in it’s simplicity. A butterfly, indicative of the energy that is now not gone but transformed. Wind that carries the newness on it’s own journey…away but never forgotten. Off to somewhere we don’t know and can’t understand.
Truth means so much. Right now, the truth I need to embrace is that no matter how much I yearn for this to be untrue…it is….acceptance of any truth is a battle. I have learned so many truths about myself and the acceptance has been hard won. Embracing this one is proving to be, as Willie would have said, “epic”!
The bounty that comes from it though will be amazing – the ability to laugh and remember him without the hurt and pain as it is now, I’m sure it will always be there but softer – that will be the freedom that follows the acceptance. The freedom to live and enjoy and experience life. He is gone. Nothing will change that. The sun does rise every morning and set every night. As unbelieveable as that may be with him gone….there will be a day when I can look at the sunrise and see the truth that it is beautiful and not just a reminder that each day is without him.