how are you, today?

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Sheryl Sandberg encourages us to ask people in mourning, “How are you, today?” By emphasizing today, we acknowledge the bumpy nature of grief.

Sometimes, I think, asking, “How are you, right now…in this very moment?” may be even more appropriate because one minute you are fine washing the dishes, thinking to yourself about the awkward but funny comment your child made earlier (maybe you should stop referring to private parts by their correct names), and the next, you find yourself in a puddle of your own creation wondering what on earth to do next.

It has been three weeks since my mom died of metastatic breast cancer. Three weeks wrapped up in what feels simultaneously like 24 hours and 3 months. I knew this time would come and often wondered what it would feel like when it did. In the time forever marked as after. That picture was taken after my mom died. That was the kids’ first birthday after we lost her.Β 

The further I get away from her death, the more I feel like I am leaving the precious and intimately sacred space where time stands still and you are entitled, expected and even encouraged to be all consumed by the enormity of the loss. Friends and family wrap you up in a warm and protective cocoon. Thank God for that cocoon.

But time soldiers on. And eventually, you have to emerge leaving the safe and nourishing shelter as a completely different creature than the the one you were before you started the unwelcome but necessary journey.

You are a changed being now. You will never be the same. You start to acclimate slowly. You return home or the people you love go home. Work, school, plans, and chores resume and sometimes the familiarity is comforting and sometimes it just feels wrong. No, no, no this can’t be, I can’t be laughing and talking about Halloween costumes, my mother just died! In her house! And we were there. And it was intense and beautiful and heartbreaking but beautiful. Sometimes. Sometimes it was and is just plain sad.

I have been creating quiet, restful moments during the day. Grief requires this. And these are the moments when I relish the relationship my mom and I built and revel in the one we are still building.

As Thomas Merton said, “Silence allows many sounds to reach awareness that otherwise would be unheard.”

In this fruitful silence, I notice one palm tree swaying to it’s own breezy music while all of the other trees stand still. I hear the peck on the glass and turn to see a yellow finch trying to fly through the window. I am comforted, soothed.

Sometimes I talk to her out loud. Or I’ll say something to my kids that sounds just like her. Like the other day, as my son played piano in the dark, I walked into the room, flipped on the light switch and said, “A little light on the subject?”Β  How many times over the years did I hear her utter that expression? I love her expressions with their touch of humor and reliability.

As I feel the presence of my mom, I also feel more and more like her. And I remember the times when she would laugh and say to no one in particular, “I sound just like my mother”. Her mother, my grandmother, Nana, whom I also adored, still adore, and miss.

This week, my oldest turned 11 and my youngest daughter turned two. Our silly and sassy little caboose with brown hair, brown eyes, and a killer grin makes everyone in the room smile. Just like her grandma did.

When my brother said the day after my mom’s service that he knew he would be o.k., my sunny friend Derek enthusiastically said something to the effect of, “Well that is something!” And it is. Because sometimes it is enough to know that we are growing in the right direction. That in this moment, no matter how bumpy and how much we ache for the people we love, we know they are o.k, and ultimately, we will be too.

 

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10 thoughts on “how are you, today?”

  1. it’s as if grief holds enough mystery to keep allowing and feeling and diving in to sadness…..oh, may you keep writing and having those tiny moments…….to hold, to be held, to lean in…..so much love……..

  2. Hi Linds’
    You have been on my mind. You and Richard are in an even tougher place now as realities continue to “soak in”. I always read your blogs which carry so much of your heart ….almost journal-like feel.

    Patty and I have dear friends who just lost a daughter (46-3girls) to cancer. They too are obviously devasted…. we all are having watched her through the years.
    I am going to share your words with them soon.

    I wish you strength and God’s love,
    and know you certainly have ours.
    Keep shin’in that beautiful smile honey. πŸ™πŸŒ·πŸ˜˜

    1. Hi Handsome. Thank you for this. Your girl was so amazing at my mom’s service, had everyone laughing and crying. I am so so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend’s daughter. It’s so so devastating. I just read a book called the Bright Hour about a woman about that age who dies of cancer. She is a poet and the most beautiful writer. It left me with a sense of hope and surprisingly, peace. Thank you for writing and reading πŸ™‚ Love you and love to you, Patty, and the family! XOXO

  3. Thanks for this Lindsay! I love your posts and admire how much you put yourself out there to share! I will be saving this for loved ones grieving!

    1. Thank you Love. The thought of this helping someone else in their grief makes this all worth while. I learned some time ago that for me the only way to healing and the only way to be fully me, is to be fully transparent. It is vulnerable. and scary but I find it freeing and helpful too. XO

  4. Beloved Lindsay-Kitty,

    For the last 20 years, through all the reading and writing while we were in school together, through all our combined life changes–weddings, children, moving, illnesses, just to name a few–every October 31st, without fail, you have remembered and acknowledged the day my father died. Throughout the years, we have, together, marked the day we each lost our beloved Dads–mine on Halloween and yours on December 3rd. This ritual gave me permission to feel ALL of my grieve, unapologetically, whether it had been 3 years or 20 years, and I will always be grateful for the gift of your enormous capacity to empathize with the suffering of your loved ones and of the world.

    When Susie asked me to look out for you, on the night of your wedding, my heart was filled with gratitude for her trust in me, that she could see and know how very much I love you and how I cherish you as the radiant soul you are.

    I hold my few memories of Susie in my heart as the rarest of jewels, and I will keep them shining brightly in this world, that can sometimes seem so dark, by loving with my whole heart, and by continuing to keep a promise to her that I made so many years ago.

    In love, “There is no separation.” -ARC
    I look out for you in my prayers, by sending love to you on the wings of my Angels, and asking them to report back to me that you are well.

    Thank you for sharing your beloved Susie with me, and for being the one person in my life that I can share my grief with so freely.

    Love and eternal blessings,
    Tia-Kitty

    1. Tia, I love you. Talk about gems. You are a treasure and I appreciate these words so much, your continuous care and concern over the years, and most of all, your illuminating ever present love. Thank you. I am still here for you. Always. Even though I have become terrible at talking on the phone. Thank you for your understanding. Keep shining your light my friend. There is no separation. How true. Here’s to love, it is never lost. Many blessings to you, my sweet. XOXO Lindsay

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