This is my Fifty-one-year-old-day-off-face selfie. Freshly scrubbed, no makeup or hairdo. Looking in those windows to see how I’m faring in this enormous life transition. A bit less tear-swollen, a little less haunted maybe. Still standing. Feeling love and empathy and caring and gratitude for my husband and my daughter as we help each other through each day with loving kindness. One more day.
2014 will bear a single word to mark its passage: Transition
I have wrestled around with what the next blog post would be, with how on earth I would address the changes occurring in my life. In my perspective. In my learning. In my family. In the very fabric of my Self. Then, today, I saw this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
Today, I am deep in a pile of pillows and quilts, nursing aches and pains everywhere as the ubiquitous ‘flu virus burns its way through my body. It is another day like so many there have been over the last four or five months, when I am alone in a silent and empty house, filled with the loudness of silence created by absence. I read this quote and was immediately resolved to tell it how it is. Not pretty. Not easy. Not sweet. Life hurts like hell at this time in my life. I’ve carried on with my work, my life, my service to my community, my caring for my home and family. Behind it all, I am weeping. Three months ago, my husband of nearly 30 years and I separated. In the aftermath, all I ever thought I knew has crashed into brittle shards, and I am engulfed by silence, deafened by the blast wave.
The whys and hows are known to a few, and really aren’t the issue. We continue every day to work as a family to help each of us through this time with loving kindness. We are close. We are working hard. We will resolve, and we will move forward, one way or another. Whatever the eventual outcome will be, we have been grieving the separation for three months now, with no ease yet coming to our divided life. I turn to my studio, to the pages of my journal, to my tools and supplies and can find no expression of the revolution going on inside me. The soul agony and grief cannot be denied, but there is some good to come from it too. We have some distance, an ability to back up far enough to get the whole picture into the viewfinder; to see what is good and what is not good; to see what we treasure and refuse to lose. It has been hard to speak brutal truths to myself, to be honest about my ways of doing things that helped bring us to where we are. To find strength to learn and grow without sinking into self blame.
Teaching at CREATE in both Dallas and Seattle this fall gave me a chance for distance and thought. It was with deep sadness that I received the recent announcement that CREATE has come to an end. I am so deeply grateful for the creativity, travel and kindred spirits my participation in CREATE brought me. How much I will miss the opportunity to see all of you! Among the other endings of my life, this news brought home the deep sense that life is going into a major transition. The path before my creative feet is well illuminated, and I feel sure of the direction I should take while I wait to learn what comes next.
I have been overwhelmed by the gifts this year has also brought. The growing opportunities, the open-hearted reception to my work when I have finally let these difficult stories be told and expressed. The work that has emerged from my hands over the last two or three years has all been about healing journeys. In the next month, an editorial article will be published in Pages magazine featuring the body of work created around the loss of our children and the birth and life of our daughter. The series is long from finished, and even in this, I believe the story is not over. There is a new beginning in here somewhere. I don’t know what it is yet, or whether it will be with my life partner’s hand in mine or alone. But somewhere in amongst all the tears and the grief and the pain, there is a kernel of hope in the future. The last few months have been all about endings. An ending of one thing always heralds the beginning of something else. I can feel its approach, even if I can’t yet make out its features in the gloom.