This morning I opened a door, a very thick steel, doubly locked door that I’ve kept locked up inside of myself ever since Russell was in the hospital. As that door unlocked and then flew open a flood as fierce as a tsunami wave crashed over me. I was left sputtering as I felt battered about by waves of grief, guilt, and questions flooding over and over me. All I could do was sit and cry as memories of the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life flashed back into my heart and mind.
I dropped temporarily (okay for most of the day) back into Cuckoo Luckoo Land – the place in which up is down, in is out, black is purple, and absolutely everything is turned inside out. It’s been months since I traveled even a little in that land. As my healing has continued I’ve been walking new paths of joy, staying in the moment, gratitude and celebrating what is right in my world rather than focusing on what no longer is. But today my breath caught in my chest as I tried to not panic with the waves inside tossing me around. I actually almost thought of running out of the house at one point before I just sat down, dove into the dark places and allowed myself to remember and feel it all.
Behind that steel door that I’ve kept carefully locked was the memory of having to make the decision to let Russell go. But today there was nothing that was going to keep that door from opening. As it opened I pictured it all: the rooms I sat in, the people there, the feelings of being both hot and cold at the same time, the mri scans, the papers explaining the process, and finally the paperwork that I had to sign. While I had several people who were part of all the conversations and second opinions and asking questions and more conversations, it was I who had to be the one to say the words and sign my name stating “It is time.” There has never been anything harder that I have had to do. And I pray that I never, ever have to be the one who has to make such a decision again in my life.
Tonight I sat with a dear friend as she sought guidance and information about making the decision to let go of her horse who has gone blind and we believe has tumors that are causing a steady decline in his overall health. Thinking this morning about how I could best walk with her during this difficult time was the key that I somehow placed into that carefully locked steel door allowing the door to a secret, dark place in my heart to come into the light.
It is not the first time since Russell died that I’ve walked with others as a loved one was dying, but it is the first time since he died that I’ve chosen to walk the whole way there from the decision “It is time” until the end which will happen in a few weeks. It is the first time that I’ve realized I still have guilt and worries around the decisions that were made 16 months ago. I realize now there is a new area ready for my focused attention and healing.
I also realized throughout the course of my day riding the waves and trying to not drown in them, that while I still am not sure I will ever feel competent as a manager of a horse farm again (or at least not anytime soon), I do feel a very deep calling to walk with people as they seek to understand their own lives. As I held space for my friend, talking with her about what she most needed on this final journey with her horse, I knew to the depths of my being that this is part of what I am meant to do, walk along with people through their joys, their sorrows and their own explorations of the dark places inside themselves. Somehow in those moments I am able to let go of my own ego, my own baggage, my own fears and simply breathe with love as I hold sacred space for their journey. This grieving, healing, loving work is what I seek to create as we build a sanctuary room at Avalon. I think I am meant to find more ways to help people walk with both the light and the dark.
I didn’t really even know I had such a strong door locked away inside of me, but I think it was time to be opened so that I can heal and clear the next layer that needs healing. I’m going to keep walking my path, living it out loud, and hope that I do more good than harm to those I meet along the way. As always – in this time, this moment I try to just breathe and love.