I had a summer of life and death. It sounds melodramatic, but that’s how it was.
For the first two weeks of August, I said good-bye to my father-in-law. Amid numerous complications of numerous illnesses, he chose to discontinue treatment and meet death on his own terms. The family spent those two weeks (and longer) drifting back and forth from the hospital. I experienced a mixture of the reluctance to let go and impatience to move on that I understand is common in these situations; the days pass slowly and there is never enough time. And in the end, I am grieved as I cherish the memory of that very special man. I loved him for all the quirks of his personality, and for helping to make my husband the man he is.
Through all that, I was in the first trimester of my first pregnancy. Trying to find food in the hospital cafeteria that didn’t trigger intense nausea, and anxious under the influence of the first hormonal waves. But excited sometimes guiltily, sometimes purely. The timing felt wrong and right at the same time. Everything changes so monumentally the moment you find out you’re pregnant. Yet for so long, it looks like nothing is really happening. The whole situation was exhausting, but I was able to find the reserves of strength that allow you to move as necessary through each day.
This all adds up to the feeling that I missed the summer of 2012. Besides the four or five weeks of overturned routine that surrounded the death, I’ve had to forego the patio ciders, gin & tonics, and wine that punctuate lazy summer days. There were few hikes, few long bike rides, few camping trips, few evenings on the beach. No fireworks. And now fall is settling in with its slanting sun and crunching leaves. I’ve always looked forward to fall. But it seems that turning inwards is less satisfying when you’ve had none of the hectic inside-out of summer.
At the same time, regret is pointless. The situation can’t be different, so I won’t waste (too much) time on wishes. A summer of life and death leads to profound moments for the soul. You can’t buy that with 100 perfect summer days.
September had the best of intentions. But then she was swallowed in large chunks, mouthfuls of days. All she could do was dissolve in the acids of memory. Settle into the slimy folds of a cerebral cortex.
I found out about a death. A very specific death of someone I knew obliquely who was nonetheless important. He supported me in ways I didn’t know I needed and didn’t understand the value of. I would like to find motivation in this subtle regret. Somehow use this as a catalyst for courage. How many years can I lie fallow instead of tossing a few seeds to see what happens?
I sometimes think I don’t challenge myself enough. Don’t surround myself with people who push my limits. It’s leading to a strange mix of fear and complacency. Too much self-satisfaction is bad for the soul.
I was feeling chatty before I sat down to write. If you were here, you’d know what I mean. I miss you. In every sense of the word.
I lost my voice. Or rather I buried it in a pile of fancy words and fictionalization for many years. Because I have a deep fear of being too open. If no one knows what I really think (or worse, what I really feel), then my solemn little soul is safe. It can never be absurd in its own home.
Recently, I uprooted what feels like everything. In reality, I kept my husband and parts of my job, but we moved our lives to the West Coast, leaving many good friends and a few bad habits behind. The physical upheaval unearthed a capacity for openness that has taken me two months to begin examining.
It could be that just living here breeds both physical and mental activity. In the context of this new life, I can’t seem to stop exploring thoughts. Chasing down ideas and finding the intersection where I can join the conversation.
All this is just the catalyst for a vocal resurgence. I’ve been excusing my silence as a refusal to add to the din of opinions battling inanely in the chasms and caverns of the internet. Which is ridiculous, now that I name it. A thousand others may say the same things, more succinctly, more loquaciously, more elegantly, or more crudely. But maybe I can pick up a few things others have missed along the way. And within this, we may find the beauty of meeting each other inside experience. In plain voice.