But listen to me.
For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.
I had to turn off the Christmas music just so that I could hear my own thoughts, or the voice of whoever else might deign to come through to me. This photo and quote that I share were brought back to me by Facebook two days ago, on the 2nd anniversary of the day that Laureen and I learned that the cancer had returned and that she was not going to survive it this time. I remember that her doctor was pretty blunt about that. He never told us exactly how severe it was, for which I am thankful. But he left no doubt that there was nothing left they could do and that Laureen was not going to get past it this time.
And still, six days later, upon awakening, Laureen suggested that we take some selfies and she was so radiantly beautiful that I could scarcely believe that she would not be with me into our old age. No, she would forever keep the beauty that was so much deeper than any cancer could ever go, or touch. A beauty of the spirit that would never know defeat.
Driving home from the office tonight, I realized that I am alone. I know that she is around me, in some form or another, but on another level, on this earth-plane level of existence, I am alone. I cannot see her, touch her, or hear her. . . I like to believe that some of the thoughts that come to me, that voice that I hear inside of me, might sometimes be her voice, giving me advice, or just saying hello. I really want to believe that.
But as I was driving home in the dark tonight, it was just me. And I started to seek some distraction – an event, something to go to – anything that might occupy some space of time so that I would not feel so alone. But something else. . . her voice? – told me to simply embrace being alone. The words inside my head suggested that I stop running from it and simply exist with it, embrace it, and stop struggling against it.
And so I surrendered and I went home. And so now, here I sit, in a quiet house, alone.
Which is rather funny because it strikes me that I am alone, yet not alone. I am sitting here, both writing this piece on Alone-ness, while at the same time chatting with my new friend, Brandy W, who has spent the better part of today sharing photographic evidence with me that we are probably never alone. And now, I have to laugh inside of myself because I feel like Laureen saw this collapse coming for me and “poked” Brandy into giving me the message that we are never alone, even when we might imagine that we are alone.
On the day of December 19th, two days ago, I did my best to not dwell on the past. Indeed, every time my thoughts started to turn in that direction I quickly steered them away. I think it would have been easy to sink into a deep malaise over the anniversary but instead I kept very busy, right through the entire week-end, to the point where I was so exhausted that I slept for ten hours last night, into this morning. I never sleep that much – and I still felt tired today.
I got distracted for a time. I am struggling to define this feeling that embodies “alone-ness”. I saw no quotes that spoke to it the way it is present inside of me. It is an empty ache that I dare not dwell in for fear that it would overwhelm my spirit and in its darkness I might lose myself. I tried to evoke it with my flute. I came close, but I could not continue. It required the most gentle of breaths to coax it out of me. A bare whisper creating the most soft and melancholy sound I could evoke.
I stood in my kitchen a few moments ago, pondering the fact that seven minutes earlier we had touched that moment at which it was Yule – at 11:48 PM. And so, just for a very momentary instant – we stood at that moment, and now Yule is past. My trusty calendar had this admonishment for me –
”We know very well that the present moment is the only moment when we can get in touch with life. The past is not here anymore. And the future isn’t here yet. Only the present moment is real.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Only the present moment is real. Was the past ever real, then? I have mementos all around me that tell me that it was. . . once upon a time. And now, there are only memories. I am tired. Time to sleep.