Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It Does Happen

I live now in what is sometimes referred to as the Rust Belt.  That phrase will bring to mind images of steel mills belching toxic black soot across the land and rivers that catch fire.  I have my own semi-famous story of the first time I saw - or actually really didn't see - the Pittsburgh skyline in the early 70's (tell you later).  There are still reminders of those times.  The radon remediation device that quietly hums along in my basement is one; the fact that I can tell what the air quality is just by how I feel when I walk up the stairs to my office in the morning is another.  But Nature is a resilient lady and spring is nothing if not glorious here.  If she resents what us humans have tried to do to her, she does not show it.  Everyday is a new and glorious surprise which does not seem to dissipate with my second sampling of it.  It's like a gift is given to the residents every year for surviving the long dark of winter (not that we really had one this year).  Everyday during spring we wake up to a different landscape.  The most amazing thing to me are all the trees that begin their season in bloom.  My neighbors, the infamous Mikes, have a set of trees that are in their second set of color.  They began the season blossoming into delicate white flowers, they now have morphed into two different tones of lavender, one lighter, one darker.  Eventually, they will shed the petals to make way for leaves the color of peridot that will eventually deepen to an emerald green that matches the general landscape here, that is such a lush, dark velvet that it makes you understand why immigrants of the Emerald Isle seemed to settle here in droves - it must have reminded them of the rolling hills of their homeland.  I don't smell coal dust in the air, I can smell fresh mown grass and rosemary when I walk the dogs in the morning.  Today I caught a whiff of lavender.  I liked spring in Texas, and I liked every season in Montana as long as you could see the mountains in the distance, but I cannot tell you in all honesty that I have ever experienced a miracle like spring in Pennsylvania.  It seems like the right setting to finally set aside grief and tell you that I am done with it.  And I am almost ready to do that.  Almost.

I will never be who I was.  Not surprisingly.  Any major event changes you forever for better or for worse.  And there is nothing more major than losing a child, no matter their age at the time.  I will never quite feel whole or like there is not that weight with me.  But, I gradually have come to realize that I experience joy now.  I laugh with an abandon that I had forgotten even existed.  I actually hope that new business associates do not discover my back story as I would rather be judged and dealt with based on what I know and what I do rather than out of some sort of pity evolving from what I lost.  I look forward to things.  Maybe above all else, that's the big one.  Sure I looked forward to football season or Sidney Crosby coming back, but I mean that I look forward to little things.  Even such little things as curling up with The Hunger Games anxious to see what comes next for Katniss.  A year ago I doubt I could have read it, this absorbing story that was a gift from a dear friend.  Children killing children would have been far too troubling, fiction or no.  Now I could barely put it down, sneaking in pages when I stopped to heat lunch or let the dogs out.   I don't wake up in the morning wishing I hadn't.  I don't go to bed at night hoping morning never finds me.

I still have Those Moments.  The moments, like seeing Angelina Jolie at the Oscars, where it feels as though I have been punched in the stomach.  Hard.  I still can reach a limit with my patience.  Like the recent conversation I had with someone where she innocently complained loudly and longly about all the things wrong with her and how that made it just impossible for her to do her work well, and I came oh-so-close to telling her she had no idea what real problems were and to count her blessings.  And I still have the moments when I would prefer the earth to just open up and swallow me whole as I see no real purpose for me to even be talking to that woman, having failed so miserably at the one job I had that really mattered;  being a mother.  And there are moments when something happens, I hear a new song, or I see something interesting and I think, "I wonder what Kelsey would think of that."  I'll never know.  But, the moments between those moments are becoming longer.

It didn't happen all at once and there wasn't a point where a switch just flipped and I knew I had made it out of the long, dark tunnel.  There was no A-ha Moment for this.  At some point I just sort of realized I felt differently.  At first I didn't trust it.  But I kept coming back to the same realization.  Finally, I had to accept it.  There are some things I credit for helping to pull me through, but a lot of it was just about time.  A lot of time.  That's not all, but it was the base ingredient.  I had to do some things to help myself along and some things came along and helped me when I least expected it.  Life is like that.  Full of surprises, some horrible, some wondrous.

All life's problems didn't evaporate with this realization.  Far from it.  But, maybe the thing grief leaves you with if you can survive it is a better ability to put things in a proper perspective.  And I am far from perfect.  Far, far from it.  But here I am.

I will share more thoughts on the journey and the destination another time.  For now, work still calls.  So, in the meantime, Happy Spring Everybody!

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