Well that was quick.
Last night, just a few hours after I posted about that bridge, it got a really good test. I was at the weekly Tea with the Morris crew. One of the hobbies several people in the group have is making hard cider, and they often bring batches they are happy with for people to test and comment on. I was sampling a rather interesting cider from one of my friends when he called it vintage, and I made the mistake of looking at the label. He made the batch on November 3, 2013. That unfortunately also happens to be the day I brought Barbara to the hospital. Bang, the flavor was lost to me. I didn’t say anything, but I was being swept away, back into the dark spaces. I tried to hold it together for a while, but the grief just kept building, like a wave, ready to wash me off the bridge and back into the river.
I decided to go outside and collect myself. I went out the back door and walked up to the field where we danced the sun up on May Day. Earlier in the day I had been thinking about how far I had come in the intervening months, how much more connected I was becoming, how my grief was no longer completely controlling my life. At that moment I didn’t feel that way at all. I let the grief wash over, let the tears run out there where nobody was watching me. I let it take me for a while, as I watched the sunset paint the clouds, and then I decided I had given it enough time to wash out. I am learning to not fight it, but to not let it take control, either.
I went back inside and rejoined the group as the music session was getting started, and found that my evening hadn’t been ruined by that wave of grief after all. The bridge held, and I was back on it. Score one for the bridge builders.
Later in the evening, as we were discussing a completely different subject, one of my friends quoted the Buddhist saying “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. I thought how that applied to my earlier episode. I had to let the pain come through, needed to experience it. But I didn’t need to hold onto it, and I didn’t.
I am starting to think of the period I am in now as a little like physical therapy during recovery from an injury. It has to hurt, because you need to stretch out the scar tissue, otherwise you will never regain your full range of motion, but in my case, I’m trying to regain my full range of emotion. My friends have been taking good care of me, but I am beginning to think I have been babying myself a bit too much. Now that I am getting stronger, it’s time to lengthen the stretches. I can handle a little pain, and I think I have learned avoid a lot of the suffering now.