The instructions for Day 35 were to go outside, sit in the dark and give thanks. I tried. I really did. Last night I went and sat in the damp chair on the deck and tried to find words, tried to find gratitude. You would think after three years of a daily gratitude practice, that gratitude would come a bit easier. But that end-of-day gratitude is always a slug for me. Morning, no problem. I can wake up each morning and be thankful for another day. All the opportunity. All the promise. All the love and all the special people. But holding gratitude last night felt like holding loss, without yet quite being grateful for it. I’m holding loss, even amid the richness and abundance of this evidence of life lived.
I feel acutely aware of loss these days. No doubt it has much to do with this cleaning house I’m doing – the same exercises you’ve been going through in packing up to head west. I’ve pulled all these things out of the dust, not just physically but emotionally as well. It’s all laying on tables and ledges throughout the house waiting for me. It’s always been waiting for me, just silently and out of sight. Now it’s yelling at me. And I hate that itching sense of being waited for and I abhor being yelled at. But the squeaky wheel gets the oil. And I’m making progress. Though I’m not sure it looks like it to anyone. It’s messy. And we have to keep on living as usual with it scattered everywhere and getting in the way. I’m encroaching on so many different spaces and one space leads to another to be attended to and you better believe I’m making these loves of mine I live with attend to them. Ellie’s room has never been so tidy or organized. But we all just want our doorknobs back. And being allowed to use the studio to create again would be nice, I’m sure.
After you left, my first purging task was going through four years of old day-planners. I’m not exactly sure why I couldn’t simply toss them into the recycling, but I felt compelled to just check. I made note of when Carson had his surgery, and when my gum grafting was done. When the roof was installed and the ducts were cleaned. I noticed the change in hairdressers and healthcare professionals. No more bookclubs or council. I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve had a sushi lunch date with Ben. I miss Niko Niko. And I noticed the names of so many people I don’t see anymore. I think of them fondly. Some I’ll get to see again. Even sooner than later. But it’s that same sense of loss I’m holding, even amid the richness and abundance of this evidence of life lived.
I went through a stack of photos of special times with special people waiting for some special words to be written and then to be mailed as thanks. Then I went through a small chunk of files and perhaps should have skipped over the “keepers” and “memorabilia” ones for today. But alas, I dove in and held the love letters and words of encouragement, wedding speeches, the funeral programs and cards, a few Christmas photos of the kids over the years, and that strange photo I keep of skinny me, but not really me. Because you know, I’m cleaning house. I might as well lay it all out on the table. Wipe out the drawers. Shake out the folders. Figure out what I’m going to keep. And of that, what should be in view, hung on the walls of my studio and on the walls of my mind. And what can be tucked away for another day. All the while holding my sense of loss amid the richness and abundance of this life lived.
I want to hold these things lightly. All these things. To allow the ebb and flow. The coming and going. All with a sense of welcome and strength. I want an open hand to hold the magic moments. However fleeting.