I’m Still Caught Off Guard on April 6
May 22, 2016
Yesterday was incredibly powerful in the most subtle of ways. It challenged all my notions of loyalty, relationship, experience… All my beliefs about what it means to have a son who died at 29 and how I am supposed to live with that… I’ve been working on it for a long time now, since 2003, and it has become easier but no less profound.
I can step back a bit and watch how I have reacted in the past to April 6th… I’m still caught off guard, especially the year in India when I forgot. And realized two days later that I’d missed the date entirely. I remember my shock at realizing that even though I still carried my child with me, in my heart, loving him and missing him as much as always, I did not need to “honor” the day or “distract” myself, realizing, clearly and definitively, that my memories of my son were not going to disappear. That momentous experience took twelve years and a lot of hard work and processing, and then it happened spontaneously. I could not have planned it – planned to “forget” – and yet forgetting totally shook my sense of relationship, of permanency, of responsibility, of connection. I make up that my past life experiences should have taught me this. I should have “known” that attachment is attachment and in some mystical way it is ever present… Like how a child’s attachment to her parents, regardless of whether she wants to be attached or not, she is, or how a parent’s attachment to her child, whether he is living or dead, is eternal… Even when we actively choose to detach, or stop being codependent, or whatever we want to call it, it’s still there… But I didn’t really know in my heart until that moment.
I knew April 6th was coming, I especially knew around April 3rd, 4th and the evening of April 5th when I could feel myself start to panic and saw myself create some drama around something that seemed rather important at that moment… That’s sort of my usual, old mode of handling my feelings: go into some sort of crisis so I access my defense mechanisms, and skirt the whole experience, postponing it for a later time, when it’s more manageable, distancing myself from whatever it is I am afraid of in the moment and missing the entire experience… In the past!
This time I “saw” what I was doing, acknowledged it, and realized I had a choice and an opportunity. I could let it happen as it would and trust that the universe would provide me with what I needed at the time… or I could dwell in the past and all the stories I make up about that, or jump into the future and miss the moment… And, much to my astonishment, I chose to just see what happened… To just see what came up on April 6th and trust…
Trust is the part that has been the most challenging for me. How could I trust a universe that has taken so much from me? How could that universe have my best interest at heart? How could that universe have done this to me? What have I ever done to deserve this? What do I need to do to “make” the universe treat me differently, care about me, nurture me?
And, like a Pinterest post I saved, I set out to change the universe and ended up realizing I could only change myself (and, maybe, my relationship to the universe).
I thank India for all I learned from my time there. I learned that India is India and has very little, if anything, to do with me being there… India goes on as it does, and my wants or needs or wishes or comfort or discomfort really does not play any part in India… India just is… India is not personal, India just is. And I could choose how I responded, or reacted to India. That was my choice. Just like the Universe – the Universe is not personal. And I can choose how I respond, or react, to what is… I have choice.
At the same time, India was incredibly generous to me, just like the Universe is incredibly generous and, I don’t know how to explain that… To me, that is the trust or faith part that is mysterious and unknowable… How something can be neutral and incredibly generous at the same time.
I was astonished at how April 6th filled up with moments that called out for my attention: A little work that felt so right to do, a couple of pressing issues like my visa expiring and a package in jeopardy of being returned to the US. Not huge things, all of them could be jettisoned if needed, but enough to remind me of my opportunity to choose how I wanted to experience my day… I knew there was nothing that could shake my world like what had already happened, and I knew that nothing would stop me from living as full a life as possible, and I knew – minute by minute – that I had a choice about what I could attend to. So, as I sat in the Fed Ex warehouse wondering if I’d receive my package of undies and summer clothes, I sat in wonder at the NOW! I was astonished, again, at the journey… From helpless and hopeless to acceptance and wonder and gratitude for an incredibly full life. Not the life I expected, but the life I have…