I wrote this in my journal several days ago. It is just this morning that I feel the call, the push to share it here. My writing in this blog, or diary format as I more often think of it, tends to be like that. I have the beginnings of dozens of entries started. All are waiting for the right time for me to develop and share. This one needs to be spoken today.
A few days ago I went to St Elizabeth’s, the hospital I took Russell to on March 13, 2015 because he was in pain. Tuesday was the first time I had been back there since March. I went there to pick up Russell’s medical records. Not for my own healing, but to help family members who seek understanding as they make their own way through the grieving and healing paths we find ourselves walking. I felt ready to take this step forward on my own path.
I had a sense as I prepared myself to enter the building that I was reclaiming an ability to enter an emotionally charged space as a now neutral one. As I walked inside I very intentionally pulled my shoulders up and back, kept my eyes forward, and focused on my breath. I repeated to myself in a mantra like format “I can do this. I am strong, capable and grounded. I am healing and this is just one step forward.” Over and over I repeated this as I looked for the records room.
Memories of that first day flashed through my brain as I passed the ER where I first stepped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land. Somehow I kept the focus on my breath as I allowed memories to flit in and then allowed them to flit right back out. As questions of “Huh? Is this real? Why? Etc…” popped into my head I listened and then reminded myself that there are things in my life I will never understand. And I smiled as I thought of Russell, his deep love for the mysteries of life and death, and I settled my mind back into allowing the mystery of life and my own journey to heal me a little bit more. My heart sang a little with that deep feeling I get of Russell still being present to me in a very real, profound way.
My voice was clear and my breathing was steady as I spoke my request for Russell’s medical records to the records clerk. When asked, I handed over the death certificate and talked of the fees, assuring her it didn’t matter what the cost was. I continued to focus on my breath and felt strong. I remember thinking “I’ve got this” and smiling at the thought. I was steady until the pages started to print.
When the first page shot out of the copier I felt and heard my sharp intake of breath. It was a quick, and very sharp reminder that he is no longer here. This is the record of the final days of his life. I wouldn’t be here in this space, in this time if he was still here. Tears welled up as the missing and longing entered into me.
As I stood there waiting for the pages to print, tears slowly trickling down my face, I turned my full attention to my breath – breathe in sorrow of missing him; breathe out healing, hope and love of feeling his ongoing presence. I listened to the pages, over 100 of them, that were a glimpse into the day of his hospital entry, the step down a rabbit hole into a week that still remains a mystery to me. Eyes leak, focus on my breath.
Then, as the clerk put the records into an envelope and took my payment, the song “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith came on. I almost gasped out loud and nearly fell to my knees. This was one of the main songs that I played and sang to Russell over and over and over again whenever I was alone with him during his final days. Flashes of sitting by his side, quietly singing while holding his hand, pouring thoughts of love and healing energy into him, fell over and into me like waves. I almost ran from the room.
And then, while the song played on the radio I clearly heard his voice speak to me “I am here. I hear you. I am here. I have stayed with you even though you can’t see me. I am here.” My heart and mind settled enough to stay where I was. My breathing steadied and I allowed the tears to quietly flow as I smiled with the feeling of a gentle, sunshiny breeze blow over me.
I gasp out the words “Thank you” to the clerk as she hands me his records. I somehow walk out the door, writing in my head as I go. I can almost see this blog, diary, life entry being written as I walk. Breathe, eyes forward, shoulders, focus on his presence as I also give voice to his absence.
Trust, love, believe that I, that we, are healing. Walking out of the hospital, my heart is full with all that goes into saying YES to the awareness of both Russell’s absence and his presence. Stay with me – Yes, I will. I do. I am.