Grief And Blueberry Scones

“Grief is an emotional, spiritual and psychological journey to healing”

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

 

I sat on the edge of the unmade bed waiting for the cup of tepid coffee to spurt from the small brewer in my hotel room.  As the gurgling stopped, I heard the familiar ding indicating an inbox message had just arrived. I stood up, wrestled with the plastic packaging that held my creamer pack and poured it in. I was stirring the oily substance into the dark brew as I ran my thumb over my notification to find her message.

“She’s gone. My sister is gone”

Knowing my dear friend as well as I do, and her predisposition to long winded narratives, these simple six words were indicative of the shock, the confusion, the pain and the tears that she was typing through.  Not knowing in those moments where to turn to share such news, she had come to me, knowing that I would understand what she was trying to convey.  I sat stunned for a brief moment, I barely recall what I responded with as the waves of her agony washed over me.

She is the grief counselor. I am the medium. And for those brief moments to follow, our shared understanding of death fell to the wayside as neither of us could find the words to make this disappear.  This wasn’t a typical death. Her sister was younger, living life, raising a child, vivacious…and a few hours before this one….she was alive. Or perhaps it was a typical death for those that we respectively counsel, but in that space of time, we were without vocabulary and hopeless together.  I didn’t have to utter a syllable, and she didn’t expect one. A thousand miles apart we sat together in the silence and found some odd comfort there.

I closed my eyes against my tears, calmed the punch into my stomach and sent her my angels.

This news shook me to my very core. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this so deeply. I didn’t know her sister well, I had met her only twice.  I only knew of their ridiculous adventures, their shared love of anything inappropriate and their bond that I envied from afar.  My struggle with finding the right things to say grew stronger as I bombarded her with flippant and humorous anecdotes to move her through the process of the first days of her loss. Her pain was far too familiar, our friendship too close. Thankfully, her sister being the powerful woman she was, was able to assist me with her words often falling from my fingertips and spilling onto the page in front of me. Some were not the most comforting of words and my instinct was to backspace them away. But true to myself I left them there hanging and was brightened by the laughter on the other end. My friend needed these words so I left them for her.

A few weeks ago now, the process of the expected duties of the bereaved came to a crashing halt. It happens. After the whirlwind of must do is over, the silence of not knowing what to do will descend.  She took to sharing her thoughts in her not knowing.

” What my sister has taught me about grief is that you cannot hide from it. As an educated psychotherapist, I have read about this and counseled others but now I am living it. You can stay as busy as possible and you can take care of everyone, but it will come looking for you. Those times when something hilarious just happened and you go to text her, it will find you. In those times when you see a family photo after she’s gone and instantly notice her absence, it will find you. Those times when you think about the trips you had planned to take, it will find you.”

You cannot hide from it.

I saw my friend yesterday. We sat on her couch and she shared over lemon blueberry scones with warm butter and coffee. Well, coffee for me. Steeped tea with an ungodly amount of sugar for her.  “Coffee will kill ya”  Yes, well so will sugar in copious amounts. Ding ding.

But I digress.

She curled her legs up beneath her, picked away at her scone and spoke of her anger surrounding certain elements of such a profound loss. Her resentment in finding that some didn’t recognize how to allow for healing.  As I sat listening, I began to recognize the tone of her voice, the pinch of her lips and  the sadness in her eyes. As I sat watching her I saw myself and heard all of the words I have never expressed.

It’s been nearly two years since I also lost someone very dear to me. I have lost many people but not one of them provided me a better lesson in out running grief such as this one did. Maybe it was his age, his unassuming manner, his expectation of nothing, his gratefulness for the small things.  Maybe it was simply that we grew up together. Or maybe it is my own anger over a life not fully lived. I really have no answer for it.  All I do know is that every now and then…swells of grief wash over me while I scramble to find a beach bucket to scoop them away, because I just don’t have time for this today…

You cannot hide from it

I know because I’ve been trying.

There is no hiding from this. You can’t comfort it away in comforting others. You can’t busy it away in heavy schedules and must do lists. You can’t write it away, dance it away or dream it away.  It is a part of your world and you must allow yourself to honor that part by giving space to it when it demands. You can’t pencil in the time you spend with it. It simply is there and it rarely announces its arrival.

Grief showed up yesterday and I allowed it in. To share blueberry lemon scones with warm butter. To share familiar words and familiar feelings with a friend.

And grief will show up again next week, next month or next year.

And I will sit with it over hot coffee and blueberry scones…

And share with it what it will teach me.

And then share it with you.

My friend’s blog is below if you wish to read the rest of her words.  I would do so, because she is incredibly gifted at helping us understand. She opened my eyes yesterday without even intending to do so. That’s a gift. 🙂

“What My Sister Has Taught Me About Grief”

In love..in light..in giggles and copious amounts of silliness..

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Thousand Broken Pieces of Pretty” ©2017

I glared into the lights of the transport ahead of me. Released my shoulders and took a deep breath. I took one last glance up at the bear behind me. Locked eyes and watched as he slowly dropped his under my gaze…

“F*ck you Boo Boo, lets dance”

Photo: Tony Boot

*****Language alert. Not suitable for young audiences*****

 

 

I’ve always found it extraordinarily difficult to completely step out of all the energies and emotional baggage attached to all those experiences I have encountered in  both my professional life and my personal life. Taking little pieces of fabric from each story, I stock a shoe box that quickly overflows and fills the room, leaving me standing in piles of colorful edges and dark frays where the thread has aged. I look about and wonder how do I put all this together to create something incredible?

And then I freak out because I can’t sew and even if I could what pieces do I pull together first?

So. I step out and shut the door and hang my “Do Not Disturb” sign from the knob.

I’ve always been this way. It’s a strange ten year cycle that has repeated for five decades  now.  I think a small part of me holds hope that the more broken pieces of fabric might disintegrate and blow away leaving space to add  more of the new. After all what can I do with the thin and worn. How can that cover and comfort anyone?

My ten year cycle extended to 12 this time. I’m impressed. The last time I opened the door was in 2005 and all I really managed to do then was to sit quietly for two years and match sizes into piles that represented chapters before I shut the door again.  Theoretically of course if you take into account the two years I sat creating the piles….yes…I guess it’s been ten years after all.

Three weeks ago I discovered myself standing on the “Do Not Disturb” sign and glancing upwards saw that the door had opened just a crack.

I slowly approached the door and very cautiously peeked in. As my eyes took in the floor to ceiling kaleidoscope of color and ragged edges I became aware of a familiar sound that made me fall back into the wall behind me.

I’d buried my grizzly.

For those that know  me they know what I am speaking of. For those new to my journey, I spent two long years with a bear that was ferocious and ten feet tall when I took him in. In that two year period I managed to tame him and create a cub that I could slap on the head when he got out of control.

The sound that came from under a pile of pieces was not that of the cub I forgot when I shut the door. There was nothing cute and controllable about this sound.

I shook my head and processed quickly what this might mean. Pulled into my resolve and muttered “Not this time you bastard”  I grabbed the doorknob and pulled but in retrospect I don’t recall hearing it click into locked position.

Only one hour later I was driving the 401 westbound when the familiar spin sensation slammed into me. Trying to maintain control in the middle lane, a transport to one side, a string of vehicles to my other.

Knowing what was happening, I reached for the water bottle, twisted the cap and focused on the sensation as the liquid poured down my throat. My breathing, the all too familiar panting, I struggled to not allow the oxygen to flood my brain and further disconnect me from the focus I needed at that moment.

I glanced up to find an opening in the traffic to escape and instead found myself staring into the yellow eyes of my bear. He’d followed me.

My panic had returned.

All that had terrified me the first night in 2005 was looking right through me. Except this time it was different. This time I knew that there was a cub in there, more scared of me than I was of it. I glared into the lights of the transport ahead of me. Released my shoulders and took a deep breath. I took one last glance up at the bear behind me. Locked eyes and watched as he slowly dropped his under my gaze…

“F*ck you Boo Boo, lets dance”

The problem with panic disorder is that you have absolutely no idea when, if or where it might suddenly appear. You can keep piling pieces in the corner but a point arrives where its too much weight for the walls to hold and the door will fall open.  Eventually you have to sink into the fabrics and make a decision to pull them together into something manageable.

I’ve had two fairly significant attacks these past two weeks. Hence my decision to step out of life for a couple of weeks and step into the room that feeds the bear. In that space lined with a thousand words and long chapters. In that space where new beginnings emerge.

In that space where the story of my life is told.

You just read the prologue….

“Shattered Reflections”

“A Thousand Broken Pieces of Pretty”©2017