Day 108: Hope

At 2 pm PST today, a family friend asked us to pray for her niece, incubated in the ICU due to COVID-19. We were sent a picture and asked to visualize her healthy, alive. She’s in her early thirties. Lives in New Jersey, in an apartment; she is not a healthcare worker. She is one of thousands of people hit by this illness.

It’s a lot.

Every single day, Nick says it’s like fighting for his life working in healthcare.

We are all fighting.

And while we fight, I find wonder in our hope. Hope that soon, we can hug again. Live again. Without fear.

Day 24: Grief is Healing in Motion

Today I began again. I decided to dedicate every Friday to writing my book. It’s a memoir and it requires a deep dive into a story that still brings me grief. “It’s so hard,” I told my husband on the phone. Last summer, I wrote a funny novel. However, writing about your life warrants deeper more complex and un-finished emotions. But it is worthy work, and that is why I do it.

Tonight, my friend, Tanya, who is also writing a memoir about illness and family, similar topics of my own book, sent me this beautiful article titled, “Grief is Healing in Motion.”

I’ve copied and pasted it here. It’s short and full of wonder. Grief is motion, grief is love.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Grief is the response to a broken bond of belonging. Whether through the loss of a loved one, a way of life, or a cherished community, grief is the reaction to being torn from what you love. As Martín Prechtel teaches, the words for grief and praise are the same in the Tz’utujil language because you can only grieve what you have dearly loved.

We grieve the loves we’ve lost. We grieve our abilities vanishing through illness or age. We grieve the loss of faith in our religion. We grieve our children leaving home. We grieve the paths we didn’t walk. We grieve the family we never had. We grieve the suffering of the planet. But while grief may look like an expression of pain that serves no purpose, it is actually the soul’s acknowledgment of what we value. Grief is the honour we pay to that which is dear to us. And it is only through the connection to what we cherish that we can know how to move forward. In this way, grief is motion.

Artwork by Inhyuk Jo

Yet in our culture, we are deeply unskilled with grief. We hold it at a distance as best we can, both in ourselves and in each other, treating it as, Joanna Macy says, like “an enemy of cheerfulness.” There is unspoken shame associated with grief. It is sanctioned in very few places, in small doses, for exceptional occasions such as death and tragedy. Beyond that, it can feel dangerous and weak. Perhaps because we fear we’ll drown in our despair, or because it means falling apart in a world which values ‘holding it together’ above all else. But grief plays an essential role in our coming undone from previous attachments. It is the necessary current we need to carry us into our next becoming. Without it, we may remain stuck in that area of our life, which can limit the whole spectrum of our feeling alive.

Grief is the expression of healing in motion. As you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Because what remains hidden for too long doesn’t change. It is calcified in place, often sealed by shame, left untouched and forgotten by time. But when it can finally come into the open to be seen, it is exposed to new conditions and it begins to move. It rises on a salty geyser of tears, sometimes sung to the surface by a terrific moan, streaming down our cheeks until it moistens the soil where we stand, preparing us for new growth.

Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person is after they’ve wept? It’s as if they are made new again by the baptism of tears. Indeed, when something stuck can be released through grief, we are freeing up a greater capacity to love.”

Day 21: When a Surgery Goes Better than Expected

The washing machine hums. My wet hair coils in an orange towel atop my head. Red flannel pajamas wrap around my legs. Today has been a Tuesday. A regular Tuesday. School, work, teaching, meetings, stopping by Sprouts and picking up tortilla chips and cheese and pinto beans to make nachos, making nachos and rice and guacamole at home, stopping at the corner gas station to buy cold Chardonnay I never get to, baby gets a bath, baby goes to bed, Nick and I collapse on couch, washing machine still on, still loud.

An average day.

But today I received a text message from a family friend who also happens to be my brother, Gavin’s, nurse. Nurse P. She had to undergo a surgery and was afraid of what might happen during the surgery.

But today, she sent a group message to my sisters and I, and it warmed me, made me believe in the gift of wonder in ordinary days. She writes:”Courtney, I have found wonder from days before the surgery all of a sudden I felt peaceful, I was no longer in constant fear of the unknown, in every person who has taken care of me, in all the visitors I had…I’m so full of happiness and I feel incredibly blessed. Once again thank you for cheering me on. Xoxo.”

The surgery went exceptionally well, better than doctors may have predicted. That’s wonder — a gift, a sense of peace, the arms of love.

Day 8: “Will you always take care of me?”

I thought my “wonder” today was going to be me posting a photo of Takis with a can of La Croix. What a wonder the combo of spice + crunch + fizzle can do to a palette.

But then I overheard something a little more wonderful…

When Nick was putting pajamas on Bennett after his bath, Bennett asked him, “Will you always take care of me?”

I don’t know why but that question got inside of me (and it wasn’t even asked to me!). He has awareness, and impressive and compassionate thoughts.

Will you always take care of me?

I hope so, my love. I hope we all take care of each other with our love forever and ever and ever.

My boy turns three in 10 days. I’ve been reflecting (and crying! gosh…) about my role as “mom.” Tonight I RSVPd to a birthday party. For years I talked to other moms as the “big sister,” but now that my child is walking, talking, makng friends, I’ve entered the new land of talking-with-other-moms as a mama myself.

Life, man. Life. And time.

In 18 years I will be 50. 18 years ago I was 14, just starting out in water polo, about to get clear braces, and about to begin thinking about my driver’s permit.

There is so much of me that still feels like I am that 14 year old girl. So much of me feels like I would stay that girl forever. Now I’m 32. In 18 year I’ll be 50. In 10 days I will have a three-year-old.

Time, man. Time.

Will you always take care of me?

Spice + Bubbles