In The Rear View

New Years Eve Hike

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

Psalm 23:4
Seyon Pond, December 31st 2018

On New Years Eve I went on a short hike around Seyon Pond. I was wearing yak tracks; I had my hiking poles, earmuffs and mittens; and I was in the company of friends. I was also carrying the weight of loss with me as my mom and especially Dave were never far from my thoughts.

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Twenty Third Psalm for some reason. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

I have always thought that the ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ was about contemplating my own mortality, but now I’m wondering if perhaps the ‘shadow of death’ is really grief. For in reality it is the loss of my loved ones that hangs like a veil…a shadow…over every part of my life.  

So here is …The Psalmist Paraphrased: 

Although I’m filled with grief I am not afraid of what lies ahead for I am surrounded by love and I’m confident that I have the tools I need to keep moving.

I hope that will comfort me until Spring when I can lie down in green pastures and find the still waters.

First Steps on a New Path…December 12th, 2018

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The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.

—F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

About ten years ago I had surgery on my knee. I was released from the hospital to recover at home. I spent most of that day sleeping as I recall. The next day I was amazed at how little pain I felt and how easily I was able to walk. Crutches? Who needs crutches. This was going to be much easier than I thought. The second day however, after the pain and numbing medication given for the surgery itself wore off I was in terrible, terrible pain. That’s the only thing I can compare to the initial grief I felt after Dave’s death. I was numb and I had yet to experience the pain.

When the numbness of shock and disbelief wore off and grief descended upon me it was as if I was completely alone surrounded by darkness. It was as if my world was illuminated by the light of a single candle. I could only see the path that lay directly in front of me. I was unaware of other people or their needs. Nothing was important and nothing mattered. I was moving slowly down this unfamiliar path. Each footstep took tremendous effort. 

 There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting.C S Lewis A Grief Observed

Gradually…very gradually…I became aware of others on this path. While I was still unable to connect with anyone, still locked with in my own grief, I was surprised by the crowds walking this road beside me. I was surrounded by people carrying heavy burdens of sadness, sorrow, and despair. I still couldn’t break out my own deep emotions to reach out to anyone, but I knew they were there.

I was also surprised by those who had traveled this path that lay before me and knew the pitfalls, landmines, and deep ravines that lay ahead, but chose to turn around, trek back, and walk beside me. The lyrics from the song, “I Believe,” kept playing on loop. 

“I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come to show the way. “DRAKE, GRAHAM, SHIEL, AND STILLMAN

That’s not exactly how it works. No one can actually show you the way. Those who have gone ahead may come back for you, but only to walk beside you. It’s the same journey of grief, sorrow, and the whole nine yards, but each of us must walk it in our own way and at our own pace, but what a comfort just to have someone to walk beside you. 

I’m hopeful that at some point I’ll be able to reach out to those who are traveling this road with me. It will be ever so much nicer when all of us can grab hands and walk together. I’m not there yet, but I know I will be.

The Hinge

“The Hinge” Utah Ghost Town, September 2018

On the morning of October 25th, 2018, I arrived home, after a short errand to discover that my husband of 43 years had died peacefully and without warning in his favorite chair. The morning news was playing on the TV and his coffee sat still cooling in a mug on the table beside him. Finding myself unexpectedly on the hinge…knowing that my life would never be the same…I began an unanticipated and unavoidable journey of self-discovery, exploration, experimentation, and hard work.

“Your life, too, will swing suddenly and cruelly in a new direction with breathtaking speed, and if you are really wise… you will know enough to look around for love. It will be there, standing right on the hinge, holding out its arms to you, If you are wise, whoever you are, you will let go, fall against the love, and be held.” ~Kate Braestrup “Here If You Need Me”

During the months since his passing I have sought support and comfort in the arms of friends and family. Often, when I least expected it, I realized that there was no other choice, but to fall against their waiting embrace of love and allow myself to be held. Eventually, the day arrived when I knew that I must stand alone and begin making my way into an unknown future. Slowly, the hinge will allow the door to open to the new life that awaits. With any luck I’ll step through to a world full of light, love, laughter and adventure.