I’m in Barnes and Noble and I see an employee shuffling three humans around the store – who from the looks of it are being trained on the layout. (Obvious assumption here is that they’re new hires.)
I come to Barnes and Noble to do my Heart Work. That’s code name for “Hard Work on my Business” (which sounds so much less inspiring than Heart Work duh)
Anyway, I come here because it feels good to me. Because this is where my sister used to go, and read, and drink coffee, and buy journals that she filled in half way (hey – that’s better than a lot of us.) This was her happy place. She even got a job here for a time, and bought Eli ‘Barnsie’, which was the first bear he had and slept with allthetime. So, when I’m here, I’m connected to her – but in a way that feels bright and comforting and full of dreams and possibilities and potential – not in a way that connects me to my Sadness. It’s a way of accessing her, where I can still maintain a safe distance from the Despair.
Usually a song will play overhead, and it’s as if she’s speaking right to me. She meets me here. Sometimes I feel as if I come with my head down, not wanting to really see or feel her too hard, just feel comforted by the surroundings that my heart connects with her memory.
Well, one of the three shuffling humans today could have very well been my sister from behind. And I found myself just staring. Pretending it could be. Imagining it was, as if it were a dream I was awake in. You know, where you sometimes suddenly become aware amidst your dream state and so you bring this conscious aspect of you in to have a little fun. I know it wasn’t her. And it felt so good to play opposites with my reality for a moment.
My Sadness soon accompanied the dream and in that moment still – maybe more deeply – I felt connected again. It was as if my heart was a ball of yarn and Recognition squeezed it tight, pulling all the strings of memories woven throughout my being. Because Jami wasn’t – isn’t – just the most incredible sisterly bond I’ve known in this life, she is an actual part of me.
I’m only grateful for the Despair I can still access within, because it is a forever reminder of how deep my love is for that Child. I miss her all the time, even though I Recognize it seldomly.
We’ve heard that we can’t selectively numb our emotions. We can’t suppress a known sadness without also suppressing our joy. I don’t know exactly where I stand on believing this, but truthfully I’m not so concerned with the question of its validity. I do believe it’s a good analogy for what I just experienced though. When I hide from what I long for because it brings up an emotion bigger than what I feel capable of holding, I can’t really access All The Beautiful Things that ever culminated in my having the reason for longing.
I haven’t reached that point in my grieving the loss of Jami where I can think of her and experience joy. Sadness is so quick to impinge. But I also realize that I can’t think of her with Sadness, without joy being steady to emerge. Sometimes quickly, sometimes after I’ve made room for it, and other times after I simply pause. In a dream like state, removed just far enough from my reality to to feel safe in the container of my imagination. If that above analogy does stand true, then it can also mean we don’t have to selectively feel our grief. Even though our pain feels pestering in it’s swift arrival, if we can pause to bring in a little Recognition, we can become aware of why it’s there. We can allow all the strings attached to our heart to be pulled, reminding us why we’re sad in the first place.
Because, love. Always because of love.
And I don’t know about you, but tuning into THAT awareness, makes a whole lot more space in me to feel this loss without being swallowed whole in it. Our grief isn’t bad. It’s just begging for our attention to bear it witness. It doesn’t want to bury us under, it wants to uproot us. It’s so discomfitingly persistent because it wants to be known. And when we can see, and feel and become intimate our pain in the container of Our Great Love… we come to know that we can emerge from anything.
Grief helps us rise with grandeur. It confronts us, then it expands us, and ultimately it can free us. I’m still living into what’s possible for that last part, and I’m not always sure (or ever really “sure”) how to find it. But one thing I do think is that freedom is also seeking us. She was after all here, today, seeking me. And one thing I know for sure, is that I begin to Recognize her too, when I choose to look back.
Thank you for finding me Jami. I know you won’t stop looking.
I won’t either,