One may not reach the dawn
save by the path of the night.
~ Kahlil Gibran, in “Sand and Foam”
The voice on the radio informed me that the city is on extreme heat watch, until 8pm Friday night. That is a freaking long time to watch the heat. No respite, not even in the long nights. The sea may swallow the sun (or so it seems) but the heat will continue to sizzle and dance on our skin and hot fingers will continue to wrap around my scalp and my neck and when there is a breeze, it comes from the big oven behind that mountain.
So we hide at home, stock up on popsicles and drag out the ice-cream maker. Drive 25 minutes one way to get god-awesome milk so we can make ice-cream so good it saves our souls. I think of the ancient Chinese poets, with no access to the modern comforts of air-conditioning– And so they threw the doors and shutters open, plant thick groves of bamboo, and hung up scrolls of ink paintings that depicted snowy mountains, a lonely hut standing in a blizzard, waterfalls gushing down steep cliffs and lush green with the wind rushing through it. And they drink tea, warm. And they go on imaginary journeys, through those ink paintings. And pen poems that lamented the relentless heat.
Sometimes all we can do is to deal, in the best way possible, tongue out panting, swiping sweat from our brows, knowing that summer will pass. Then the glorious Arizonan fall and winter will arrive, and we can be smug about being here.
You just gotta get through it, the end will come somehow. You can grind your teeth down to powder, sit back and relax, clench and curse, OM and meditate, but you will get through it, somehow. The long tunnel of summer will eventually spit us out; darkness is not eternal, neither is sunshine.
I have had no tears yet this month. Maybe the heat evaporated every molecule of water I have in my body. But the truth is that I am focusing on other things as well. And I have been busy de-cluttering and boxing things up. Just to see how little we need. I did call the hospital and the nurse told me they would love to have more cranes again, how the birds had added to the garden and how people had asked and how she enjoyed telling the story about Ferdinand and the cranes. This afternoon I will venture into the perilous hot cave of our garage and fish out the box labeled “Cranes” and start working on them. Another remembering.
I spoke to a counselor and she talked about how many people will think it has been three years and I have Lyra and so it will be OK but I will know it is not truly OK. And so on. She also talked about the great lessons our children can teach us. And she made sure I was not in denial, after she expressed surprise over my lack of tears. She thought by a certain point in our conversation I would have cried already. Please do not put up a wall, she told me. Please face it, please do not go into denial.
I am not in denial. But I have been distracted. I know what is ahead and I know there is no path leading away from it. I need to head straight, and through. I will come out bleeding and shaking,and then it will be behind me, until next year.
Not that I forget the rest of the times, the grief had just transformed, my life had changed; I had changed.
And I thought this morning, I think I had cried most of the tears out in the first year that he died. After that, it just became hard to cry some more.
I think before Ferdinand’s first anniversary I went for a reading and was told that I may have forgotten but in one of my previous lives he and I made an agreement about this. It was to happen and I agreed. I looked at the reader’s face and wondered if I was insane then. But yet I also believe her.
Two days ago, on our way back from the cabin I read this quote from Eckhart Tolle:
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.
It was an appropriate footnote. So funny how sometimes everything seem to just align. I am not fighting it. I am not trying not to feel grief, and I am not trying to summon it either. It is not customary to cry on the day itself if the emotions are not there.
I told the counselor I was not in denial. I live grief daily, just like I live joy daily, they are but two sides of the same coin.
Though July does seem like an awfully long month, especially with the heat, so still and stifling.
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