November 30, 2014

This morning, as I was sleeping on the flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul, I dreamt. In my dream I had landed in Seattle and went directly to Mellington’s house for a movie night. A man was there – a friend of a friend, someone I have seen but not spent time with (I hardly know him). He was in a reclining chair and asked if I would like for him to hold me. There was nothing loaded about his offer and there were no sexual overtones. With relief, I said “Yes. Please. I need to be held so badly.”. I sat with him, leaned my head against his chest, almost relaxed and then sat up and said “Wait! I just got off the plane and haven’t showered! I stink! He smiled and said “I know. It’s fine.”. So I leaned back in, closed my eyes, and let go. I asked him “Do you know what that feels like when you take a deep breath and let all of your muscles go?”. He said “Yes, I do. Go ahead.”. I exhaled deeply and let my entire body relax, then I did it again, shedding layers of pain and stress, melting into his comforting and completely platonic embrace. I felt safe. For a few moments, I put down my burdens and it was the most wonderful feeling I have had in months. Then, my flight began to descend into Seoul and I was woken from the dream by the announcements the pilot was making. It was such a shame. It would have been so nice to be held just a little bit longer.

Headed Home

Saturday, November 29, Cat Ba, Vietnam.

It’s 415am and I’m sitting on the beach in the dark. I’ve been up since 130am, as sleep continues to elude me. Today I begin the long 2 day journey home – a bus, then a boat, then 2 more busses, then a cab from Hanoi to the airport, flight to Ho Chi Minh city, 3 hr layover, 5hr flight to Seoul, 11hr layover in Seoul, 12hr flight home.

While I had some pleasant moments on this trip, I can’t say that I found happiness or joy. I did, however, find some amount of peace. It has been healthy to step away, reflect on the last 6 months, and swim around in my ocean of grief. I am grateful for the space this trip has given me to gather my strength, set new intentions, and get ready for the next push. Every single trip I have taken since John died has been productive, even the excruciatingly painful ones. The next big trip that I have planned is an ice climbing clinic in Ouray in the end of January with a fellow widow who lost her partner with John. I’m not quite sure I can make it a full 2 months without some solo time away, so I may have to plan a short trip in between.

I am painfully aware that, when I return to Seattle, the holidays will be upon me. I cannot avoid Christmas as I have avoided Thanksgiving. When I think about picking presents for the girls, buying a Christmas tree, and cooking Christmas dinner – all without John, I feel like I’m going to throw up. I have no love for the upcoming school festivals, holiday parties, and Christmas cheer. There is no way out of this – only through. To be honest, I do not know what techniques to employ to cope with the month that is to come. All of the widows and professionals tell me the same thing – the holidays will be very hard. Frankly, if I didn’t think it would damage my kids, I would disappear again to some remote location, but the girls need Christmas with me and I know it.

What inspiring words can I offer? Frankly, I’m not sure. My husband has died, and along with him – many of my dreams. It takes time to find new dreams. There will always be a hole in my life. Eventually that hole will shrink a bit as my life fills with new experiences, dreams, and passions, but it will always be there. I remember times in the past when working with a yoga client in true trauma, I would say “What you are going through is truly terrible. I stand here and honor that fact. I do not trivialize it or pretend that an inspiring meditation will fix things. I can give you tools to work with the pain, while all the while honoring that your pain is huge and is not going away any time soon.”

My pain isn’t going away. There would be something wrong if it did, given the enormity of what has happened. Thank you to all of you who continue to hold me, and especially to those of you who have the strength to sit by me and spend time with me, even when I don’t smile, even when I obviously wish I could just run away.