This morning as a slideshow of our family photos and past memories played as my computer screen saver, Ava said, “I want to see daddy's friends today.” I watch as she lights up and is drawn to younger men, men similar to Mitch in one way or another, some that share similar physical attributes and some that share his young, free-spirited nature. I see clearly that we are both grieving his absence in varying ways. I too find that when I see people in love, I long for him, or when I see a man that looks similar to him, I long for Mitch. I too am drawn to that masculine energy, that Ava at two years old is drawn to. And this is when there is a choice to fear not falling in love again, not finding a loving dad for my daughters, or to have faith and to trust that the perfect man will come and join our family at the right time. We all long to be loved, to have a companion to journey with in this life, but it is during the times we find ourselves without that we must look within to love ourselves more wholly, to allow our sadness, our pains, and our fears to refine us into more loving fulfilled human beings. It is then that we open to receiving more love that can come in its many forms. I cannot ease Ava's pain of loss for her dad, but for now I can make sure our home is filled to the brim with love and expose her to positive and trusting male energy as a positive reminder of her dad in some way. I can also help her connect to his spirit through daily prayers and conversations with him, and pray for his guidance in how I parent her. And perhaps as I become more whole and healed, and find more peace and fulfillment, that this too will ease some of the longing that Ava feels. And this is one of the challenges for anyone raising a child without a partner, finding ways to fulfill our children's need for love in ways that are nurturing to the soul. And in this process we too will learn to love ourselves in ways that nurture our souls.
The pain of loss twists and turns, swallows me whole sometimes, and I emerge soaking wet, gasping for air, sitting on the very edge catching my breath looking in at where I've been. And so for days after I slowly come back to life, moving more slowly, feeling the need for more solitude, withdrawing from expending my energy out into the world, as all the energy I have and create nourishes me, the baby growing inside me, and my daughter. And its in these days that when the demands of other relationships rap at my door, I learn to politely say that I am not home. And so during this process of grieving my husband, nourishing new life, raising my 2 ½ year old daughter, setting up new residence in a foreign country that was truly home to my husband and I, and launching my career, I just have to stop and breathe to take note of where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going. And so it is a process of gradual integration after the shock of reality fades, of a pain so deep that slow is the only way to go to not break into a million pieces. And for now, I let the earth dry my tears and I drink in the life breath that nourishes me. And I emerge a little more whole and a little more healed.
I watch my mother carry my daughter down to the shoreline to take a walk, her motherly intuition must have told her of my unconscious need for time and space, or perhaps she knows me well enough to know that I am sad. I lay down on the warm sandy earth, and realize just how much I have needed to feel anchored. I no longer have to smile, and I let my jaw muscles relax and I am surprised how much tension I have been harboring in my face. I relax my abdominal muscles as well, and lay my hands by my side, palms facing up. I allow myself to drink in the salty sea air, and relish in the warmth of the sun on my skin. I listen to the rhythmic beating of the waves crashing on the shore, and suddenly I am overtaken by tears of sadness, I cover my face with my daughter's bathing suit and allow the sadness that comes in waves to move through me. I cry because I have chosen to let go of trying to live up to anyone else's expectations of me, I have chosen me first, and I have chosen to reclaim my life as my own. I cry because I have been wounded, I cry because I have finally drawn a line in the sand. I notice the waves of sadness roll through me, and I notice the stillness in between. I look to my left and a sea gull watches the surf, he flies away and I feel the wind beneath his wings. I close my eyes and I imagine my spirit leaving my body and flying out over the water, diving in and out of the ocean, soaring through the air, as free as a bird, I spiral upward toward the sky like a twirling ballerina as I remember the words of my friend- let go, and I do. Waves of sadness roll through me once more as I picture my daughter running, growing up fast. In the far distance I see her flying as free as a bird, and suddenly I feel the pain of inevitable loss that will come with her growing up and leaving the nest, and yet joy and pride in watching her soar. I settle back into my body and realize the sadness has moved through me for now, and I feel lighter, and a smile comes to my lips as I see my mother and daughter approaching, I am renewed.