A SLOW, WIDE U-TURN

It’s New Year’s Eve, but that’s not what’s doing it. In fact, I don’t know what’s doing it. Who can say when the call of life finally, after close to two months, finally grabs you and you yield, say to yourself: Yes, I know, I’m here, I’m alive, time to get moving!

I clearly went into depression after Bernie died, no two ways about it. Call it grief, call it mourning, a hollowness in my entire body every single morning when I opened my eyes to darkness outside and darkness inside. Alone! What is left? No one to care for, no one to think about.

Out of habit your antennas are still out, still pointing to the other bed. They’ll be out throughout the day listening for sounds from the bedroom, from the table where he sits, from the exercise mat where he exercises, listening, wondering what’s needed, weighing whether to go and check things out or continue working at your desk.

Those antennas still reach out, only there’s no connection anymore. And with no connection, depression set in.

It hasn’t totally lifted. Early mornings are still hardest for me: the time of inactivity, of lying horizontal, feeling helpless. Still, something has shifted.

Here in Israel I caught a cold as soon as I landed. Jerusalem was chilled and rainy, a disappointment, and the wind seemed to carry the dampness everywhere in my body no matter how well my brother heated up his home. I was up all night one night, other days tired and sleepy (though I was encouraged by the flowers on all the outside porches of the apartment building next to my mother’s home).

Finally, yesterday morning I spoke to my stepmother, my father’s wife who still mourns for him three years after his death. I heard of her health concerns—cancer, chemo, radiation—mantras I knew quite well–-and suddenly felt like Persephone who’d been taken to the Underworld and now faced a choice: Do I stay there or do I turn around and start walking back?

I could stay in the world of shadows, I thought. I could look at the world like a visitor who’s only come for a brief visit, who smiles wanly at the laughter of children, as if to say that this is great for them but no longer for me, who feels the coming of dusk sharper than any other hours of the day. I could stay there, or I could turn around slowly and start walking back. And I believe that sometime after that phone conversation I started making that big, wide U-turn.

And maybe it’s no accident that this happened on the day before New Year’s Eve. I’m not boring anyone with any new year resolutions, only that life came to a standstill for a split moment, like a movie frame, and I saw that I could keep on looking mournfully at glimmerings of the new day, or, as Stevenson said of Eleanor Roosevelt, I could light a candle. Not curse the darkness, but light a candle.

Only for that I had to turn around and start my journey back to the surface where the sun still shines.

And that big U-turn begins with deep love and appreciation for everyone who reads this blog, for all who email me words of encouragement and support, who remind me of how hard others have it (yes, in my case that helped a lot!), who remind me of the one big heart that goes on beating no matter what. Who remind me there’s always a home to return to, no matter what.