An Arbitrary Date

It is remarkable how a seemingly arbitrary date can suddenly mark the turn of a year.

My mom died one year ago yesterday. I woke in the morning, hit the trail on achy legs and challenged myself to feel every damn bit of it.

My sister and I let the snot fly as my cute as hell niece and nephew graduated from preschool and sang about how the skies are blue and it is a wonderful world. I surrendered to an inappropriately hot vinyasa class right after I forgave myself for becoming impatient in line behind a lovely woman with a developmental disability; impatient because I was rushing to make it to said vinyasa class. I had an honest giggle about how ma would have reminded me that I can still be an asshole just like everybody else, no matter how much yoga I do.

I have been dared like crazy to grow in the year since ma died. Madly productive growing pains, y’all.

Somehow I have finally embodied this idea that I should stay connected to my experience, no matter the mess. It is the old proverb about the lilies that grow from the muck and I have submitted to it. Okay, the truth is, I have taken a lorazepam, crawled under the covers, and checked out a couple of times. Three at most. But still I have learned that there is a deeply unpredictable, yet beautifully satisfying richness in a life lived by showing up in honor of the challenges. Not despite them. But in honor of them.

My relationship to fear has changed immensely in a year. It is certainly not that I have more courage, that could actually be dangerous for me. It is that I have become much more familiar with acceptance. In an intimate way.

I have learned this year that we are best served when we observe what terrifies us through the lens of curiosity. Of course, that is easier said than done. Just like allowing ourselves to love someone fully, even when they are nowhere to be found and have broken our hearts. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in staying vulnerable whilst unlatching. A sense of peace can be had in appreciating our lack of control over the circumstances of this life’s ride.  Because many times, the best thing we can do is to buckle in to the passenger seat of this speeding train and watch in awe - daringly trusting in the journey even as we are scared shitless.

Most notably perhaps, is that this past year has me thinking about paradigm shifts and belting Rita Coolidge as loud as I can.

Yesterday afternoon I spiritedly watched a handful of well-dressed high school girls run laughing hysterically through an intersection in the pouring rain. It reminded me that it was raining sheets the night ma died and that the mortician still showed up in a three-piece suit, despite having to maneuver a horribly muddy drive in the middle of the night. Yet, I didn’t even bother to get out of my dirty work overalls or wash my sweaty armpits or clean up the car before I picked up her ashes from the mortuary. And truth be told, I cussed about the funeral home racket, between bouts of tearful laughter and Bob Segar, all the way back to the farm that sunny day. And so I suppose I have realized that when we do the best we can with what we’ve been given, it’s good enough, damn it. And it might just provide some much needed comedic relief.

We all have arbitrary dates turned anniversaries and sometimes we are just terribly unprepared. And that’s okay. So what if we fall embarrassingly short of expectations – whether someone else’s or our own? Is that more important than surrendering to love and tears and laughter in the midst of it all? If we can just be honest and gentle with ourselves, stay engaged at whatever level is available, and maintain a sense of humor, even if it is an inappropriate one, everything is okay. It really is.

These kinds of anniversaries and the years that precede them can be downright relentless. But nowhere is it written that healing is meant to be easy y’all. And sometimes, as ma would have said, growth just hurts like hell.

Let the next year begin.