Some think the sickness, accident, death or trauma was the most challenging part. Others might think the grieving and living without him or her is. Who are we kidding? It’s all a complete and total nightmare.
But, what’s interesting is somehow we know how to survive the worst. We instinctively know how to dig in deep and just fucking get through it. We know how to shut down if we need to and we have our lifelong coping mechanisms. We all have our own ways of zoning out avoiding our feelings and the terrifying reality of our situation. Some of us have addictions that help us do that. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but we deal. And do not fuck with us when the person we were fighting for needed something. We would do whatever we had to do to get the treatment, medicine, test, doctor or whatever was needed to help her or comfort him. Done and done.
But one day a moment takes you by surprise. You feel no pain, so you don’t need to cope. No one needs you and there’s no one to save. You’re just there. Just you and the moment. Just you and life together. Zen right? Sounds beautiful right? Theoretically, it is – it’s the inner peace goal we all say we want, but when you have never felt it before, it’s a HOLY SHIT moment because you don’t know what in the hell to do with it.
You know what to do with your pain. You know what to do with your loneliness, your grief, your misery, your exhaustion, and your disappointment with the way things turned out. I mean it sucks, but you know what to do with those familiar feelings. But the possibility of peace, hope, relief, happiness or whatever this moment is? No. This is uncomfortable, scary and new territory. And it’s your calling.
That’s why I believe the most challenging part of the process after the worst has happened to figure out how live your life to the fullest while you are still here on the planet. That is your work now. Of course it is. It involves a letting go of what you thought your life would be and a willingness to open yourself up to live your life and love even though you’ve been hurt. And yes, you will be hurt again. That’s what being alive and loving each other means. Take the time you need. Get the support you need. You are here and the rest of us need your talents, compassion and gifts. So, please don’t give up.
This poem by Wendell Berry called The Real Work blew me away the first time I read it. I know it will comfort you as you move in this uncharted territory.