autumn days

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Falling in Love

Ten months ago, my beloved partner was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.  Losing him six months ago has been an intense and devastating experience for our three children, our family, friends-who-are-family, and me.

I am feeling especially grateful for my gratitude practice right now, as redundant as that seems.  I've spent years focusing daily upon what I appreciate in my life.  And now I am seeing more side effects from this practice of shifting and shaping my own thoughts.  With an intentional turn of perspective, I get to see the many blessings that have come about as a result of this journey in the last ten months.  I believe there are silver linings or helpers in any situation.  Sometimes they are harder to find, yet they are still present.  Most people in our world are well-intentioned, helpful, and want to show up for one another.  To move forward in this world, this is what I believe.

Our biggest silver lining was, upon diagnosis, the family and friends-who-are-family who showed up for us in every way imaginable.  We were and are surrounded by incredible love and never alone, even though sometimes we felt alone.  They were there to hold me while I sobbed in the grocery store.  They were there to drive my partner to appointments.  They were there to talk with my partner while I ran errands.  They were there to be with our children so I could sit at my partner's side and attend appointments.  

We were able to join the Dougy Center support groups right after my partner's diagnosis, both the transitional pathways program and later the bereavement groups.  Through Dougy, my wee family has found so many loving families in similar situations.  We see these friends at least twice a week to play and connect, along with our twice-monthly support group.  These families are our primary support network when it comes to brutal honesty in our raw moments, our surprising and intense feelings, watching the flow of storms through our core, and knowing we are not alone in searching for the light through painful experiences of losing a loved one.

As I experience the privilege of turning 40, knowing many others won't have this same privilege, I step more fully into myself, into knowing myself, trusting myself, discovering myself.  As a single parent, I get to explore and play and create in ways I couldn't as part of my wonderful co-parenting co-habitating relationship.  Now I get to choose what I want to bring into my life, what I choose to leave behind, and how I choose to move forward with my children at the forefront.  My children benefit from getting to watch me explore and expand.

I am writing from a little room in a small house in Waldport, Oregon.  My children are here with me in this room and on this adventure.  My son is now driving a car across bumpy terrain on an electronic screen, my oldest daughter is asleep on the couch, and my youngest wee one is on my lap drawing pictures in this morning's window condensation.  I hear and see the ocean.  I don't have telephone service, so all the world of talking and texting others falls away.  There is a calm and quiet within myself that I haven't known in this way before.

I am growing in trusting my instincts, in trusting my connections with others, in trusting the resiliency of myself and my children.  I trust my children are growing in beneficial ways by watching me grow into myself more fully, in their growing independence.  I get to fall in love with this life in all its intensities: full time parenting, taking over every aspect of home care and choices, life with tears and laughter and melancholy and beauty, learning as I go, leaning on my people in ways I haven't before.  I get to learn more about my own strengths, weaknesses, interests, perspective.  I get to dig deep in the quiet moments, fewer quiet moments than ever before.  I get to connect with others in ways I haven't before.  I get to be responsible for my own (oh-so-early) bedtime.  I get to fall in love with the details of this moment, in my relationships with my children, in how my child grates slowly upon every carrot in the communal bowl, in how long it takes me to finish a sentence, in how I slowly grow stronger in who I am so I can more lovingly support my wee folk.  What a privilege to get to fall in love with my own life, again and again, and then share that with my people.

Living at the heart of it all

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