March 20, the Spring Equinox, is a time of new beginnings; a time of hope; a time of trusting in the promise of warmer and sunnier days; a time of greening; a time of taking deeper breaths; a time of joy. It has long been one of my favorite days of the year. I have loved celebrating it and inviting others to do the same. When I ran the horse farm, we’d have a spring bonfire to celebrate and release all of the pent up heaviness of the winter. It was glorious!
March 20 is also the anniversary of my husband, Russell’s death. 7 years ago he left this world after a very short 7 days of confusing illness. That day 7 years ago stopped his life; stopped my life as his wife; stopped my kids and my lives as we had known them; stopped the world for us for a very long time; and stopped my choosing to celebrate the Spring Equinox. The symbolism of endings and beginnings was not lost on me that Russell died on the Sring Equinox. But it became nearly impossible to imagine or give myself permission to celebrate with joy the first day of spring, when March 20 had also become the day of remembering our family’s deepest loss.
This weekend a very significant shift has occurred for me. I’ve found myself dancing in the shadowy space between the light and the dark of joy and sadness in a profound way. Not just standing stuck in that space, but dancing there listening to soul music only I can hear. I released the guilt I’ve felt for years about wanting to celebrate the Equinox as I felt it somehow would take away from the death of Russell. I listened to the very real truth that part of my life’s work and mission is to dance in that center space and speak of what that is like for those who can only feel the darkness. My choice to become a Soul Life Coach and an Equine Guided Facilitator flows from this truth. I have walked through a dark night of the soul. I find joy every single day of my life. I know how to weave these threads of dark and threads of light together in ways not everyone knows how to do. I want to guide those who long to learn how to dance in this shadowy space. I laughed a lot this weekend. I rode my pony at sunset tonight which has always been a joyous Spring Equinox activity. I reveled in multiple sunsets. I had my first fire just for the Equinox (originally a decades-long commitment) since his memorial fire a year after he died. I shared stories with friends and family. I started a dream list for spring. I celebrated with joy and no guilt!
Dancing in this center space between death and life has been a dance I have done for longer than I can remember. Even before Russell’s death, it was as if I could hear music in that space that others couldn’t hear. Now, my desire is to offer hope to those who need it most. I can only do that if I allow myself to fully embrace both/and. Remember Russell on this day of his death AND celebrate the first day of spring. THIS is how we say yes to hope in the midst of our suffering. We don’t try to pretend that there is no pain in life. We don’t try to push through and ignore it all, only making it worse. We don’t deny ourselves joy or peace or rest. We learn, baby step by baby step, how to dance with all of the pieces.
As a concrete way to share tiny bits of hope for others who are out there looking for any sign that they’re not alone, I started a new habit today. Those of you have been following me for a while know that I find pennies (and other coins) all of the time. The notion of “pennies from heaven” was one of the BEST things a friend shared with me early in my grief journey. I think of them as penny hellos from Russell. They bring me hope; they make me smile; they help me feel less alone when I need it most. I don’t really think Russell drops them for me, but I do feel them as love reminders. And I find them all of the time because I look for them all of the time. I am open to the magic of something as simple as a penny to change my day.
Well today, I decided to start randomly dropping pennies when I received them as change. There are others out there who will find those pennies and smile. Maybe they will find them, like I always do, just when they need them most and believe they aren’t alone. Maybe they will find a little bit of joy to help the darkness not feel so dark.
These are how I dance in the shadowy center space between light and dark, offering hope to the world. One musing blog post at a time. One sunset alert at a time. One willingness to share that I’m not always okay. One joyful picture at a time. One penny at a time.
Today I remember Russell, missing him always. Today I celebrate the first day of Spring. Dancing with both, and feeling love for it all!