I was gifted a miraculous ability during my late wife’s illness. It started when I was standing at the sink, washing dishes. I was reflecting on something from my past, I can’t even remember what it is now, and then a voice in my head spoke up:
“Thats the past, it doesn’t matter.”
And then that thing I was thinking about – it was just wiped away. Just like that. Totally gone. Not one speck of it left in my head. I’m sure I could drudge it up if I worked hard enough, but then I barely had the energy to think straight. It was truly, blessedly, gone. Miraculous.
It didn’t stop there, it became a habit that lasts to this day. Most of the time I don’t even have to think about it, but if I do I can just say to myself:
“Yep, that doesn’t matter anymore. Part of the past.”
And then its just gone.
It seems like a small thing but really, its a super-human power. What could be more important in life than being able to let go of the past? It is a rare gift from a very troubled time, it helps me just about every day show up for my children, helps us face the challenges of each day.
Of course there are many things from that time I can’t forget about, can’t get over. I still miss my wife, still mourn moments of her suffering. But those experiences are not the same as those toss-able memories. Those are baggage, not worthy matters of the heart.
I really needed that gift then. I was in a pressure cooker and being torn apart at the same time. It was lonely and yet I couldn’t get enough alone time. It was heart crushing and heart opening all at once. You get the idea. There were many times, right up to her passing, that I thought I wouldn’t stay sane, wouldn’t survive the loss of her. I didn’t know what would be left after everything I thought myself to be was torn away.
I know some of you are thinking – existential crisis, but its really not that. There is no room for liberation or realization. No great letting go that leads to some AHA moments. You’re just crushed until the crushing is done, and whatever walks away from that puddle is what you have to work with. You get what remains.
This national crisis reminds me a little of that time. We’re getting shaken, some of us very hard. Even before this outbreak I knew many people who were already hurting, up against a wall. Many of us were incredibly stressed about the upcoming election. Now all of that has been thrown into a meat grinder, and nobody knows whats going to come out the other end. The economic crisis might break the Stock Market, destroying retirements and vital investments. The death toll might be staggering. Or we could come through this together, more unified, stronger, more stable. Perhaps we’ll have everything in between.
After a year of hunkering down I decided to sell our homestead and move to a new state. I couldn’t afford to stay where I was, needed a sustainable future for me and the kids. I checked in with myself a number of times to see if I had it in me to do all that on my own (with help from friends and family at all the right moments.) The answer was crystal clear, unembellished.
Yep, thats whats next. Let’s do it.
The kids and I moved up here, knowing almost nobody, no idea of what schools they’d attend, thought the town looked good and the rivers great. And its been pretty wonderful. This morning at about five AM I was laying in bed with a kid on either side (they always crawl into bed, I don’t mind), wondering what it would be like to go through this isolation and school break at our old place.
Thats the past, it doesn’t matter anymore.
I don’t know that it would change things one way or another. Some things would be harder I’m sure, some easier. And thats not really whats important now. What matters is what will remain once this all passes. I have no idea what it will look like, but I know it will be worthy. Thats another thing that I learned, to trust what will remain.
When everything falls apart, if there is something left, you can still make a life of it. That I know for sure.
We have always been on this blessed journey together. Now we can feel each other, standing closer, our breath on each other necks. We can feel the stress, the anticipation, that edge. We don’t know whats coming next. But we have each other. And what remains will be good, beautiful and worthy of all of our talents and wisdoms. I love being on this journey with you, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Blessings to you and yours during this time of great change.