Surrendering to the Season of my Heart

I’m currently reading this little gem of a book called Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. It’s a compilation of Celtic wisdom on the themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death.

One passage in particular really resonated with me. O’Donohue describes the Celts’ wonderful intuition for life; how they respect the circle of the seasons and understand that the rhythms in nature are also active in our own hearts.  How there is wisdom in surrendering to whatever season we find ourselves in.

I can definitely relate to finding myself in a season of the heart: without a doubt it feels as though I have been stuck in winter for some time. The last three years have largely been dominated by pain and loss. My mom passed away the day that my daughter turned eight months old. Her death unearthed a well of grief much deeper than I could have anticipated. (I write about this experience a bit in another post.)

I have no doubt that releasing this grief has healed me in ways I could never have expected, and I’m certainly grateful for the fruits of the painful passage. That being said, I’m more than ready to move on to the next season of my heart.

In January when I found out I was pregnant, I was elated. In an amazing twist of fate, my due date was the date of my mother’s passing. How beautiful, I thought. New life literally springing forth after a season of loss.

But then I miscarried. It is an understatement to say that I was devastated.

I thought, really universe, more grief and loss? I have tired of this landscape. I know my husband is beyond tired of this landscape. The whole experience has rattled me and made me question whether I can trust that “this too will pass.” What is next, I bitterly ask.

pexels-photo

CC license, photo courtesy of Pexels.

O’Donohue reminds us that nobody is immune from bleak times. He urges—be “exceedingly gentle with yourself.”  In Anam Cara, he describes the image of a field of corn in autumn:

When the wind catches the corn, it does not stand stiff and direct against the force of the wind; were it to do this, the wind would rip it sunder. No, the corn weaves with the wind, it bends low. And when the wind is gone, it weaves back and finds its own poise and balance again. (passage from Anam Cara by John O’Donohue.)

I may not like that I still find myself in winter, but for now I will do my best to surrender to it. When I am impatient, I will remind myself that ultimately it is a season. Seasons cannot be fought or battled, but simply weathered. Seasons are not personal. Yes, it may require bending and weaving with the wind for a bit, but the wind will eventually stop, and balance will return again.

Plus, after winter comes spring. I will hold onto the faith that sometime soon, when the time is right, the ag borradh will appear: the Gaelic term for “quivering life to break forth.”

You may also enjoy An Ocean of Tears Larger than the Four Oceans.

 

 

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Five Things Nobody Tells You About Miscarriage

I know what you are thinking: a listicle about miscarriage?  Yes. Because if you are going to write a dark humor piece on miscarriage, it pretty much demands a listicle format.

One in three pregnancies folks. And nobody talks about it. Ready for some truth-telling?

Quick disclaimer: I ended up not having a medical intervention so my experience might be a little different than those who do have a procedure.  You may now continue with the saddest post ever.

  1. You will suddenly be Chubby McChubbykins and have no clothes to wear and hell no you aren’t putting on those maternity pants.
  2. Whee, it is fun to shop at Target while having a miscarriage! Photo from Target.com

    You will literally be walking around Target while having a miscarriage. It turns out that if you don’t have a medical procedure you will instead experience the world’s longest, saddest period. Expelling the products of conception is process, not a single event. So, you will find yourself in Target, trying to determine the cheapest paper towels that retain that handy perforation feature, and it will hit you: Hello fellow shoppers, I am standing in Target while having a miscarriage. You might shed some tears. Let’s hope the lady next to you thinks you are just really torn-up over these paper towel prices. (See what I did there?)

  3. You have to take a freaking pregnancy test. To confirm that you are no longer pregnant. AS IF YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW. This is officially the worst pregnancy test you have ever taken.
  4. You can’t have sex for a while because you have to make sure your cervix is freaking closed. Trust me, this won’t be a problem. You won’t be ready for a trip to funky town for a while. Your body physiologically is like, whoa, what just happened. I was pregnant, now I’m not pregnant. I can’t keep up. In the meantime, I’ll just sit over here and knit while watching some funny cat videos. (Note: I did not actually knit while watching cat videos. But now that I write this, it sounds rather pleasant to my non-sexy-time self.)
  5. Your spouse will be ready for a trip to funky town way before you are. This one wrote itself, didn’t it?

For you mother-warriors who have experienced miscarriage, anything else you would add to the list?

(And to answer my husband’s question, no, my next post will not be “The five things nobody tells you about Genocide!” I’m pretty sure Buzzfeed already published that one.)

One Year After My Mom’s Passing: Overthinking the Deathversary

I’m just going to throw it out there: deathversaries are hard. There is no avoiding the grief that bubbles up. I knew that marking the first year without my mom would be difficult, so I planned a day with nothing to do other than take care of me. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I planned a Day, with a capital “D”.  A magical day of spiritual and emotional significance, that would allow me transcend space and time.  (Or something.)  For this first deathversary I planned to walk to beaches of Sanibel island, collect shells that would forever symbolize this day of hope, healing and renewal, and ponder the meaning of existence.

In retrospect, I should have settled for date with Netflix, some chocolate, and a trashy magazine. But that would have been too simple.

The day started promisingly enough. I woke to rain that stopped in the early morning. This made me giddy, since I’d heard that shelling conditions are ideal after a storm.

Now, never having shelled after a storm I have no idea if what I encountered that day was typical. If it was typical, God bless the hardcore shellers because they have earned every last stinking shell they find.

Let me emphasize the word stinking.

I arrived to my secret shelling spot that day, visions of whole conch shells dancing in my head. Instead, I found piles and piles of knobby, gnarly mussels. Tangled in seaweed. With the occasional piece of trash. I should clarify: these were piles of knotty, gnarly, rotting mussels. As far as the eye could see.

A wiser person might have shrugged it off, headed straight back to the car, and driven home. Not I. I carried on like a soldier. Somewhere, buried in the depth of rotting mussel flesh I was determined find my pearl.

Now, you might be thinking, Ok, the stink smell doesn’t sound ideal. But the shells! Glory be, I bet you found some great shells!

You would be sorely mistaken. I spent an hour walking the beach and found nothing more than some cats paws and a lot of jingle shells. These are rinky, dinky little shells. Child’s play.

I was disheartened, to say the least. The magical day was escaping me but it only made me even more upset. I didn’t feel peaceful, serene or contemplative. Hell, I wasn’t even feeling grief. I simply felt cranky and was being bitten alive by the bugs there were attracted to the stinking pile of mussels.

I found myself alone on a stretch of beach. I hadn’t really felt a connection to my mom all morning. I sat down and I said, mom, I want you to be with me.

She said, I am, I’m always with you.

(What likely remained unsaid by her was “…but why on earth did you pick a smelly beach as the place for us to hang out?!”)

Anyway, I frowned at the stinky piles of shells.

Stop looking for a special shell, she told me. You don’t need it to remember this day. Do you know how much you are loved?

At this point, I played along: How much am I loved, mom?

I absentmindedly picked up a huge pen shell that had hundreds of little gnarly barnacles on it.

You see all those barnacles – that is how many people love you – and even MORE. So many people love you, you can’t even begin to imagine. We are all rooting you on.

I felt the wave of love and I felt the urgency in my mom’s voice.

An hour after walking the stinky beach, and hour after being bitten by bugs, I finally felt anger. Anger at the injustice of it all. How it wasn’t fair that I didn’t have my mom to help me become a mom, and that my daughter didn’t have my mother to become her grandmother.

She said, I know, honey. It isn’t fair. You have had your share of injustices.

But. Yes, there was a but.

“But you know what you need to do.”

She was practically yelling now. I mean, it was like I was getting a stern lecture from across the deep abyss.

Sarah, you get your butt down and write. Write like your life depended on it.

I took the pen shell, walked back to the car, and later that night created this blog.* I went to the beach that day looking for a pity party. I looked for answers or deep meaning. But really, I knew in my heart that moving forward I had to write. The time of quiet, introverted grieving was over.

It has been a difficult year. I survived tough storms and I came out a little rough for the wear. It wasn’t the year of the shiny conch. It was the year of the gnarled, weathered pen shell–and let’s be honest, smelly shell– that washed ashore after the storm, holding reminders of love from many. A little rough for the wear but fully intact.

*(Ok, by create I mean “start drafting blog posts that will sit on my computer, unpublished for a year.” See this.)