I wake up early, pull my running shoes on and walk out into the dim light, just before sunrise. The air is moist from a rain the night before and the scents on the cool air seem to lift my spirits as my head rises and I stretch. It feels good to inhale and breath in life. The sun is starting to illuminate everything around me, though it hasn’t peeked out from behind the mountains. But, the air is clear and I can see for miles. I can hardly keep a smile off my face as I listen to the birds in the trees all around, singing songs of welcome as they seem to celebrate a brilliant new day. They’ve been up longer then I and are now busy about their business. Life goes on regardless of my participation.
Not long ago I could hardly drag my heavily burdened body out of bed, everything hurt, especially my soul and I didn’t know how I was going to enjoy the day. Everything was heavy and I felt so stiff with fear and doubts. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to breath. Breathing hurt and it felt as if the breath was actually being sucked from my chest. How could I feel so wonderful now and yet so miserable not long ago? How could I enjoy so much with all of my senses and yet not long ago felt so numb and foggy. When did the shift happen and how did I ever survive?
I consciously knew that if I wanted to be happy again, that it was about what I chose to focus on. If I want to be happy it’s all about making a conscious decision to be happy and focusing on the things that make me happy. It was about recognizing the little things like how the air lifts my nostrils and makes me feel alive. It’s easy to say now, but I really don’t know when the shift happened because it was difficult and seemed to last forever. I’m just grateful that it finally shifted.
Some have ask me how I survived the tragedy of loosing my son. Actually, this question has been asked many times by well meaning people and friends. Their interest is either to inquire that they genuinely may know for their own benefit or to acknowledge me for what I’ve accomplished and help me feel better about myself and how I survived. They are usually impressed that I have, and yet curious how. I’ve heard comments like, “I don’t know how you’ve done it. I could never survive something like that.” I suppose people do choose not to survive tragedy. I suppose they even give up at times and I certainly understand how this happens. When your life is torn and wounded so badly and you are left with no answers, it’s easy to get discouraged and wonder how you’re going to survive.
From my perspective, I’m really not sure I ever had a choice as to whether or not I would survive. I have a family that depends on me. I’ve been granted the gift of life and I’m grateful for it at such a core level. I guess I say I’m not sure I had a choice, because I’ve never acknowledged another choice. I did however have a choice as to how I would survive and how that would look and maybe that’s worth discussing.
Remember walking outside on a beautiful spring morning when the air was crisp and fresh almost as if it lifted your nostrils as you walk along and inhale through your nose and take in fragrant smells that drift through and rest on your awareness. One pleasant scent after another usually of flowers or even churned soil from fresh planting all signifying new life and eager anticipation of that life. This to me is symbolic of the gift of life that I refer to. I believe that all life seeks expression of itself and does this by creating new life. Spring seems to be the easiest time to recognize this. Life is what I cannot deny when I ask myself how I’ve survived. It’s for the grace of another day, for the opportunity to smell again, to see again, to feel again, to hear again, to taste again. It was because of the hope that I could, that the numbness of my senses from the grief of tragedy will be soon lifted and I’ll once again taste sweetness and smell fragrance dancing and caressing it’s way through my life. Hearing songs that make me alive with expression, so that once again I can see clearly. Lifting the thick fog that had lowered around me from the numbness of my loss.
The vibrant life of my son that was snatched away from my family and I, left us not only breathless but numb. Nothing seemed to stimulate the senses and the dull ache would drown everything out, so that the only thing I seemed to be aware of was the pain. I completely understand when I hear that people who have suffered loss loose themselves in more numbing substances that help them hide from these feelings. Self medicating from this condition is an easy way out. The experience of loss is valuable, we can’t escape it, not in this life at least. However, I can promise that because of the opportunity to experience so deeply we can also appreciate the beauty of life more fully, in time. We can enjoy our senses again and experience more fully all the things that adorn our life and help us enjoy life again.
So. . . just a little tip from St. Francis of Assisi “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Grieve fully. Get the help you need. Start to heal by breathing even though it hurts. Smell what you can even though it’s dull and notice what you taste even though it may be bland. Hear what you hear even though it’s muted. Do it because you must. Do it because you hope things will be enjoyable again. Do it because you need the hurt to go away. Sometime soon, you will notice that things just change along the way. The fog will lift and somehow you will have survived and done the impossible.