The adrenaline has worn off and I am left with a muddled mind and a body that feels full of lead. 🙂 I am no longer “holding on” for a big event (though a few more are still before me) and I find that I am longing for vast amounts of time by myself. I think my brain simply can’t process the last few weeks. It tries to make sense out of how I got from there, Russell still with us, to here, Russell not with us and it simply doesn’t register.
While I am trying to re-enter my world and get back to some kind of a routine, simple tasks that were previously ones I could do on auto pilot are now monumental tasks. I have been driving for over 30 years, yet there are moments that I feel like I’ve just gotten my license. I seem to have forgotten how to look both directions at an intersection. Thankfully other drivers seem to be in much better shape than I am. I wish they made giant black sashes for cars that say “Caution, in mourning.”
I have about 3 hours a day that my brain fires on almost all its cylinders. These sometimes come in one long stretch but most days I get a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Definitely makes larger projects a titch more challenging. While I am easing back into working this week, even what used to be short days at the farm seem daunting. The fact that it is spring is a giant gift to me. Freezing cold days would surely leave me hiding under my covers.
One of the other things I have found happening as the adrenaline wears off is my muse is much quieter these days. Oh, I still have thoughts run through my head throughout the day. But I am not finding it necessary to carry my journal with me everywhere. Nor does the muse rise up in my throat, pushing all other thoughts out of the way. While this makes it easier to get other tasks done I was enjoying the desire and need to speak of all running through me. Writing now becomes another thing that I must do with great intention not just something that flows out of me as easily as breathing.
All of these new realities speak to my continuing commitment to living my life with authenticity and intention. This is where the real work begins, in baby steps moving forward. It would be easy at this time, in this moment to close my heart off to the world. Jumping back into work, boxing up all of Russell’s things, moving on with my life – all of these maybe necessary things to do. But not right now, not quite in this time and in this moment. Grieving is not something to be rushed through and set aside to return to “normal” life. Grieving is a long haul process, not a quick “get it over and done with” kind of thing. I intend to take my time and keep my heart open as I move forward.
The conversations with folks over the confusion and mystery of what has happened continue to occur. We are all still grappling to understand why and how. Being open to continuing these conversations and sharing my real feelings is part of my commitment to keeping my heart open and living with intention. I deeply desire to continue to live in “real” experiences and emotions. Listening to stories of how others are dealing with Russell’s quick exit from this life can be heart wrenching. And it is also heart warming. The love continues to flow as we all grieve.
One conversation that has stuck with me over the last few days is the one I had with Bishop Braxton of the Belleville diocese. Bishop Braxton has reached out to me several times to express his condolences. He and Russell often had long conversations about theology, philosophy, and ministry in their work with the people of the diocese. Russell very much enjoyed these intellectual conversations and would be pleased to know Bishop Braxton remembers them fondly.
As most of us have been grappling with, Bishop Braxton has been questioning the how this could have all happened. The quickness of it has left us all reeling. And questioning the fleeting reality of our own lives. In our most recent conversation Bishop Braxton talked about his last encounter with Russell. He talked of how causal it was and the fact that if he had known then it would be a final conversation with Russell he would have talked of more “real” (my word) things. He wouldn’t have ended it at a “casual conversation”
That is what I keep coming back to, “casual conversations”. We spend most of our lives living in casual conversations. We don’t live our lives thinking “what would I say if this was my final moment with this person.” We move through our days on auto pilot, just getting it all done. We talk with folks, but we don’t often slow down and really communicate with each other. To do so takes intention, authenticity, and being vulnerable to the world. It’s what I and many have been living more fully in the last few weeks. And that is a gift of this time, and this moment that I don’t want to lose.
What if we all lived our lives with profound awareness and connection to one another? What if we all lived our lives with intention knowing that there is no guarantee that our lives won’t flip upside down and inside out in a blink of an eye? What if we all lived our lives saying YES to the opportunities to BE with one another in an authentic way in every moment? What if we chose ourselves and others over tasks everyday? What if we knew that every casual conversation might be our last so we might want to make it a little less casual?
These thoughts, these longings in me to live my life less casually and with more profound awareness are what keep me from rushing through my grieving and just “getting busy”. I don’t want to cover it all up with the stuff of life. I don’t want to think “the funeral is over, time to get on with it.” I am thankful for the gifts of connection, feeling deep love for all who cross my path, opening my heart, and living each moment with awareness and intention. I am thankful that I continue to give myself, our kids, our family and friends permission to “tap out” an any moment with no explanations necessary. I don’t want to lose my high need to tell everyone at the end of a conversation “I love you. I appreciate you. You matter to me” and mean it. I want to always remember that it can change in a blink of an eye or in one tiny step. I want to live my whole life following my heart and doing what I want to do now, not wait until the tomorrow that might not come. I want to witness to our kids that living real is a viable option and may lead to a great and passionate life. And I want to 100% support them as they choose the path forward that works best for them, not just choose a path I or anyone else would choose for them.
Living with awareness and intention can be very emotional as we open our hearts to the world. But the reward is well worth the rawness. The reward of knowing that we are connected by threads we cannot see, but can definitely feel is healing and joyful for me. If I can help even one person feel that our casual conversation was really much more than I continue to honor the path I started down with Russell. As the hard work of making daily choices to write, to call people, to work, to dream, to do more than just hibernating commences I am hoping to live my life with intention in each time, and in each moment. I choose to live my life in profound realness knowing each casual conversation might really be my last.