This time, this moment: Living out loud in every moment. That is my goal, my mission so to speak, for my blog. From the very beginning of this current life path I am on that started with Russell’s entry into the hospital I have done my best to live this mission everyday. The path has been raw, vulnerable, and hard to speak at times. But in walking it I have found a profound new realness to living life.
When I stay committed to this mission of living my life out loud in every moment I find the path before me to be very clear. As I honestly state what I am feeling, thinking and dreaming it’s as if the fog lifts and the sun brightly shines my way forward. It’s in the times that I hide away my truth or hold back from speaking the musings that float up inside of me wanting to come out that I feel like the path and my life become foggy again and almost impassable.
Interestingly much of my journey forward through Russell’s sudden illness and death and then the grieving since has been fairly easy to live out loud. Oh I can’t always speak it but I’ve been able to write it. My inner muse awoke with passion when I dropped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land 17 months ago. She remains awake when I slow down my racing mind, take a deep breath and listen from my heart about what she wants to say. I like it when she is awake as there is such a sense of rightness, of “yes this is what I most want to do,” when I listen and allow myself to drop everything to write.
This past week I’ve had several shout outs from my muse about things to make note of. None of them have been so compelling as what she kept nudging me with this morning. The entire time I was at the airport dropping my sons off for their flight to camp in Oregon I could hear her whispering to me, inviting me into a new place of pondering. A story is what she wanted me to tell about the door that was opened just a crack on own flights home from Asheville last weekend. I kept trying to tell her to hush thinking nope I don’t need to or want to tell that story. It’s not important. Blah, blah, blah.
My muse was persistent though as I thought back to last weekend and realized that it is about a significant shift I need to speak and share. The story isn’t that big of a deal but the door it has cracked open is an important tiny, bitty step in a new direction on my grieving/healing journey. The story is a bit of a ramble so I hope you bear with me to the end. Smile!
In a long, way too long to tell the whole thing here, adventure at Chicago O’Hare airport last weekend there were hundreds of people who spent the night in the airport. Several of us from the same flight temporarily bonded together as we encouraged each other to find new flights or other means of transportation to St. Louis after our flight was cancelled at 11:30 at night. We rallied together to talk, laugh, hug a few who were crying and basically shake our heads at the surrealness of hours of delays, followed by a late night cancellation and getting stuck in an airport.
One of the people in this little cluster of folks who connected was a man about my age with a great laugh, super positive energy and a willingness to help. He and I chatted at various stages from the cancelled flight’s gate to the United Airlines service desk to the point of heading to our new goals of getting to St. Louis. We both offered support to a young woman who came almost completely unglued when the flight was cancelled. We helped her figure out a new plan before heading in different directions – me to the American airlines area for the night and him towards the rental cars as he tried to get a car to just drive home. It was a nice reminder that there are others in the world who can find humor and the positive, while also supporting others, in the crazy situations that pop up in life. No other thought beyond that.
After an exhausting night sleeping on the floor of O’Hare’s airport, I got on my flight back to St. Louis where I promptly fell asleep for the entire way. After we landed in St. Louis and we were waiting to disembark I felt a tap on my shoulder. I thought maybe I had dropped something and I looked around. Well, there was the guy from the night before smiling and thanking me for the tip about switching airlines to get home sooner. It was funny as we chatted like long-lost friends about the goofiness of the night before. I told him about losing my new boarding pass and trying to find blankets. He told me about trying to rent a car and deciding not to when he found out it would cost $750 for a one way drive to St. Louis. We laughed and shook our heads.
As we got off we said goodbye and good luck. Again, I didn’t think much beyond that. Then, we saw each other again at United’s baggage claim as we tried to find our bags. Several others from our original, cancelled flight were there and we all got talking about our adventures. This guy and I got laughing about what had happened. Part of the silliness was being so tired but it was good to be laughing rather than crying. Others joined in as we all talked in general about where we were from and what we did, desperately all hoping our bags had somehow made it to St. Louis already. I finally got my bag, said goodbye and good luck, and headed for home.
As I talked and laughed with this guy I had a sense that I was kind looking at myself from the outside in because I knew something felt different. But I was wayyy too tired to figure out what and why it felt different. I just knew it was and left it at that.
Throughout the past week I’ve had moments of pondering the niggling sense that something had shifted during that 15 hours or so at O’Hare and then finishing up at Lambert. I now know what it was and my muse insists that I write about it as part of my commitment to living my life out loud. I had personal interest and an attraction to the guy I kept meeting along my journey home. There was something about him that piqued my curiosity and my interest beyond just this is a nice guy. There was something about him, about the energy of who he is that I felt drawn to and that prompted thoughts of “I wonder what his name is? I wonder where he lives? ” The fact that he shared he with me he had the young woman in distress the night before “Just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Everything will be okay.” was enough for me to think “Hmmm, who is this guy? I’d like to know more.”
For the first time I felt enough of an attraction to a man who I was willing to contemplate, to consider the possibility that someday I might want to date. Ack, there I said it! Truly some of the most terrifying words I’ve written on this whole long journey. Writing about the rawness of my grief has felt far easier than writing that I felt attracted to someone. If my muse hadn’t been so persistent I am quite confident I would never have written this story. But if I am truly going to commit to living my life out loud than this is part of my journey right now and I feel compelled to share it all.
There are so many layers to the opening of this door that I am barely aware of them all. Question after question has arisen for me as my awareness of how this guy opened a door for me has grown. Questions like…
“How could I be ready for this? I can barely doing anything besides work, be with my kids, watch silly sitcoms and occasionally see friends.”
“What would I have said if this guy had asked me out?”
“How does one date in their late 40s, almost 50?”
“Do I have to start wearing makeup?” Followed by “Why would I think that?”
“Should I take my ring off? But wouldn’t that be disloyal to Russell?”
“When will my kids be ready? and How will I know?”
“How does a widow date?”
“What could I possibly talk about?”
And on, and on, and on the questions go.
I don’t know any of the answers to these or the other questions that pop up around this. I do know that I am not ready right now for dating nor do I think that I will be anytime soon. There is so much I am still sorting out and that I am trying to put into place for myself and my kids. I do think I am ready to be curious about the possibility of someday wanting to date again. I am willing to leave the door cracked opened at least a little bit.
Who knew a cancelled flight and a floopy night in an airport could lead to such a long rambling story? And who knew a nice, friendly guy could open up a new door for me? I guess, maybe, the story and the telling of it was a big deal. Most interesting!