What is this feeling? It is joy, it is pleasure, it is fun.
It is lightness. Free from worry and resentment and sorrow and anger.
It is a sparkle of sunlight in a thick fog.
it is a deep breath when I am suffocating.
It is a window of time when I’m not listening for the shoes to drop.
It is allowing myself to feel the love in all the noise that is her leaving.
It is letting my heart open to be with her, in the simple ways.
To let myself light up, the way she does when she sees me.
It is love that is buried beneath the noise of her leaving.
I am so familiar with the other feelings. They are loud and in my face.
The noise of the doctor visits and tests.
The endless feeding and bathing and cleaning and wiping and worrying and wondering.
The noise of caring and resenting and longing for a break with all my heart and soul.
To be free of it for a few days.
The cringe every time the text chimes or the phone rings,
That something else has gone wrong.
The sudden clenching of my heart, stopping of my breath,
Turning of my stomach
That something else has gone wrong.
Underneath the noise of all of that is the love.
Because as much as I long for the freedom of my time again, I don’t want to look too closely at the day when that will come.
When there will be no more claim on my hours.
I do not want to look too closely at the time when that unique smile of hers, that heart of hers, is no longer here.
Underneath all the noise is the love, painfully sweet.
In this window of time I seek to surrender to it,
Let myself absorb her gratitude that I am there.
Allow myself to feel the tenderness seep in as I watch her play a game,
Tuck her into bed.
A kiss goodnight, as if she were a child.
I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be here tomorrow,
I won’t abandon you tomorrow.
Under the noise of all of it is the love.
In showering together, we do it together now,
Her naked body and mine.
Talking to her as I wash each intimate part of her.
Melting into her profound trust that I will care for her.
As I dry the parts of her, back and arms.
Hold the towel so she can wipe her face, a cat leaning into my hand.
As we dress together.
I brush her hair, asking if she slept well.
Gently untangling the knots,
Wrapping it up in a bun to keep it out of her face.
Moments of tenderness.
Does this feel good? Does this give you pleasure?
The unfurling of my heart when she smiles at the breakfast I have laid out for her.
Let this plate of carefully arranged eggs and fruit please your eyes and invite you to eat something, just a little something.
Underneath the noise of the boredom and the resentment,
The exhaustion and the desperate longing to have my time back,
Is the love.
Even in writing this, I can tell it is a tiny opening.
I hold it so tightly, not daring to fully feel that love.
For in opening completely to the love, I would then truly feel the tidal wave of the loss.
But my sister asked me this, “Do you think we will grieve any less, because we held back? Because we didn’t give her everything we could? While she was still here?”
In trying to keep my ship upright, in my desperate attempt to avoid the shipwreck, have I let the noise keep me occupied, distracted? Holding myself back?
Or can I find the courage to plunge into the seas, let my heart rip open with loving her?
Let that love swell in me, accepting that it will hurt, devastate me, when she is gone.
Holding it all.
Accepting that those other feelings are true, those feelings are real.
I do not need to ignore them or pretend they do not exist.
Yet, somehow harder, and easier, is to surrender, open, welcome,
Can I find the courage to surrender to the love?