It’s been 100 days since Nancy passed away, and I’ve been thinking and feeling all day, moving into and out of grief, contemplating my new life, noticing that place of presence in between my past and my future. Yes, I have a new life, I can finally feel something new coming in, along with all the loss.
Even though I still find something to cry about nearly every day, it’s becoming different now. For one thing, it’s been over a week since I’ve actually sobbed. But even more important, I’m having some choice in the moment. I notice that my grief is always right there…all I have to do is look at a passing bird, catch the scent of a flower, and think “Nancy will never get to experience that again…” Wham. Tears. But I now have some choice in every moment. Rather than being swept by waves of grief whenever they come, I now have some capacity to let it go, choose to be present or contemplate something new about my life. It’s almost as though I can turn my attention toward the past or the future in every moment.
And grieving must have it’s time. When I do not grieve for a few days, I start to feel depressed, and realize that I’m numb or feeling shut down. (That’s happened a couple of times over the last month — took me a few days to figure out why I was feeling depressed as well as sad.) It’s as though my grief is a garden, requiring watering by tears from time to time. I’m fine with it, my grief honors my love for her.
I cannot imagine being here without my meditation practice. I started in 1997, so now it’s an easy habit and I can drop in pretty quickly. I mostly do it early in the morning, since I’ve conditioned myself to wake up early when I need to meditate. And like clockwork, two or three times a week, I awake in the darkness and quiet of our home, sit up in bed, and breathe into my heart for 40 minutes. Sometimes I come home from work, light candles in the darkening house, and sit on the couch at the 7pm time that I prayed for her all through her hospital stay and for 49 days beyond. Those meditations are lovely, as I can see her softly-lit altar, feel sadness come in, let it go, and return to my breath. There is incredible beauty all around me in the form of home and artwork, nature and the cycle of springtime, and my friends who have been so wonderfully supportive.
Here is a recent photo of the altar, what I see each evening when I come home. It changes weekly, but still has photos, her notebooks and mystery school candle, her ashes, flowers, and our wedding rings. All solidly anchored by our favorite Quan Yin statue in the center.