on grief and meditation

 Nancy, Reflection  Comments Off on on grief and meditation
Mar 312012

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.

reclaiming the pub

 Nancy, Reflection  Comments Off on reclaiming the pub
Mar 132012

I seem to have a never-ending stream of ways to find grief. Today, it was the pub. By the way, it’s been 83 days since she passed away. I’m still counting.

I’ve been going to the local brew pub for a lot of years, more than ten, perhaps twenty…long before I lived here in Fairfax. I got to know Mike Altman a bit when he bought Iron Springs, built it up and made it the glowing success and icon of our town that it is today. I knew the woman brewer before him, when it was Ross Valley Brewing Co., and the brewer before it was Ross Valley.

Such a favorite place, with live music on Wednesdays, the bicycle crowd hanging out on Sunday afternoons, tons of families with kids on Tuesdays. Nancy and I used to go about once every week or two, discuss dinner options for five minutes or more, then always order the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken, and a Cheesburger with French Fries. We split them both, as Nancy liked variety and choices. She’d have a couple of glasses of chardonnay, and I’d have some of Mike’s finest. We’d talk, smile, fight, bicker, brainstorm ideas as we built our house, plan vacations. The table for two in the corner near the cash register was our favorite, along with the woman who often served us wearing a great old fedora or homburg. And I haven’t been back since September.

Tonight I came to pay for two kegs of beer I’m bringing to work for St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, and had fine conversation with the manager, got to taste a really unusual beer, sat at the end of the bar as life and relationship swirled around me, loving the music and conversation, the warmth and the bustle, the smell of the food and the hops, the pint before me.

And cried again, just quietly sitting at the end of the bar with tears making my beard wet, dabbing at my eyes with a napkin. That’s the third time today.

Iron Springs will be a yardstick for my recovery. When I can sit there for an evening without crying, I’ll be a lot more whole than I am now. That’s not going to stop me from going back. This needs to become a regular part of my life again. I want my pub, dammit!