Shoulders tight, breath quick,
Belly clenching and wrenching.
This was no leaping from a plane, no diving from a cliff. This was ‘simply’ my dread at the thought of travelling back from Corvallis, Oregon to Los Angeles, California.
It was intended as my first solo flight, Portland seemed like a safe choice. It is a beautiful city with great public transportation, easy to get to, and best of all I had three wonderful friends who now make their home there.
I registered with AirBnB, was delighted at the cozy room I found, bought my tickets, and rented a car. This was good, I knew how to do this. There was a tremor of anticipation at this undertaking, the potential for pleasure in discovering a new town. Perhaps I needed to prove to myself I could do this.
But to be expected, the experience was mixed. Memories stirred as I thought of how much fun Mike and I had travelling together. The adventure of figuring out transportation, the joy of discovering some hidden corner, the pleasure of hikes in the woods, and bedtime curled up cozy. Numerous times I wanted to snap a picture and text it to him, “Hey honey, look at this – a wishing tree, a great café, my cool room…” In my mind seeing his reaction as he’d text me back with his day’s activities.
Yet woven into the sadness was also the acknowledgement that bit by bit I was relearning how to walk, finding the courage to venture out to places unknown. I was beyond grateful to join dear friends for a delicious dinner flowing with love, tears, compassion, and promise.
Doing good, I thought to myself as I made my way down to Corvallis where my third friend resided.
In the pouring rain,
In a car not mine,
On a road not known.
But overnight my courage deserted me.
It is time to head home. I have given myself seven hours to get from Corvallis (90 miles away) to my flight home. My logical mind says that is plenty of time. But it is not my logical mind that come out to play.
Somehow slippery snakes of fear are wrapping their cold skin around my heart, my stomach, my throat and the panic is rising. My imagination is running rampant at thoughts of driving in a thunderstorm, finding no gas, being late to return the car, getting lost on the way to the bus station, my flight getting delayed. All I want is to be home. To be home. Safe.
I’m standing there in the kitchen, staring at my friend, deer in the headlights. I can’t believe how I feel like I’m going to fly apart. “I don’t know if I can do this… I don’t know if I can do this,” I whisper.
And this dear, dear friend, who lost someone as well this year tells me she understands. She understands how hard it can be sometimes to take the smallest of steps, how overwhelming even the simplest of things can seem. But she will help me however she can, cheering me on all the way.
Somehow I do make it home. Her texts are my guideposts all the way back.
Arrived in Portland – yeah!
Got to the bus station – hurrah!
At last to the airport – good for you!
HOME! HOME! – be well, sleep tight!
Years ago, my father looked at me the same way, terrified at the simplest of tasks. My mother will as well, these days, when she feels bewildered by what she no longer understands. And I understand. I understand in a way I did not before.
How absolutely terrifying simple things can feel.
How quickly the panic can rise to overwhelm us.
How in a split second everything that felt solid collapses at our feet.
This experience reminds me again and again that we must be kind with ourselves and with others. We need to be gentle with our souls, loving, patient and compassionate, for we don’t know what it is to walk in the other’s shoes.
For when we have lost our footing and the forest is dark sometimes the smallest steps require the greatest courage. Bravery is all relative.
To your journey.
#grief, #widow, #overcoming, #loss