Where Grief and Joy Collided

The moment is sudden and almost made me stumble even though I was standing perfectly still. I had been anticipating this for months, hours, minutes, seconds. Initially I am incapable of comprehending what is in front of me. My brain collapsed on itself. A supernova of emotions. I was yearning for this feeling. It was a feeling that would rocket through me over and over again as each day I deconstructed and rebuilt what was inside of me while venturing through the wonders of Patagonia.

Earlier that year, I had flown to Costa Rica, looking for expansion. But there I found love, and a sense of home. My heart just felt enveloped in the familiar sense of warmth it was missing.

Next, I traveled to Iceland, and caught glimpses of what I was searching so hard for. But, the company I had prevented this feeling from truly taking root. I couldn’t be fully immersed in the moments of awe. I couldn’t submerge and be reborn. Not yet.

At the Grand Canyon, I got closer. Something older and stranger than myself. Something I couldn’t grasp. At night the stars and galaxies painted the sky and I knew I was on the right path.

In Nicaragua, I found solace and patience. I was humbled by an ocean I was not able to master. I found another home. Another place that clicked. I could stay here and be satisfied, but I wasn’t after that kind of satisfaction. Not yet.

I wanted to break my brain and crack open my soul. I wanted to split apart the insides of me and let everything pour out.

I fumbled through the top zipper pocket of my backpack, groping for the pouch containing two pill bottles of ashes. Streams of energy ebbed inside. Tears pooled and collected, ready to spill out.

All around the booming, the cracking, the echoing. Glaciers, calving in the summer “heat,” stretching beyond the furthest reach of my sight. Chunks of ice diamonds bigger than three of me floated in the taupe waters of Laguna Torre. It had poured the entire hike to the lake, but once we arrived the skies quieted, as if halting in reverence for the moment I was experiencing.

The only water falling now was down my cheeks, I smiled bigger than I had in months.

Loss and love were interweaving, I found the space where grief and joy collided. I revisited this so many times over that week. And in between the sense of being home rushed in again.

Perhaps my home was going to be everywhere. Perhaps I had been here before, in another life.

Perhaps this was just a beginning in the ending of the worst year of my life.

Perhaps this is where the real work starts.

In the explosion of the senses, I understood for a brief period of time that being present and taking in just the here and now was all that was needed. I felt my soul. Like, really, deeply, cosmically, felt it. It was a beautiful and radiant sensation. I drank it in every day.

That feeling has faded, lost in the isolation and cautious patterns required to navigate an ongoing global pandemic.

I hope to find it again in the “after time.” I hope it finds me when I least expect it.

That’s all I have right now: hope.

A Simple Declaration

I have many things I would like to continue to write about, but it feels completely wrong and inappriopriate without doing the following:

I am against white supremacy in all of its manifestations. I do not stand for the actions of the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021, and will not support any individuals that subscribe to this behavior.

See? Not super hard to do at all.

This does not mean that as a cis-gendered, straight white female I don’t benefit from these systems. I most assuredly do, in spite of being a person that has gone through some serious, emotional struggles. And I am committed to doing the work within myself and the communities I belong to in order to dismantle these systems and thoughts that bring harm to people who don’t look like me. I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to stumble and misstep. But I’m going to learn, and unlearn, and hopefully be a part of the effort in leaving this world a place that is better than how it was when I came into it.

Here are some resources I have found in pursuing this kind of work:

Websites
https://www.rachelricketts.com/
https://www.ar-tic.org/
https://www.moniquemelton.com/
http://www.alexelle.com/

There are also numerous books, many linked on these websites and when you view them suggestions come up for a plethora of similar books in anti-racism and a self-care/healing categories. I am making a strong effort to purchase books, trainings, and workshops from people of marginalized identities. I ask anyone reading this to do the same. I am also happy to be contacted for further support/recommendations. May we heal within ourselves and within our communities.

Much love.

The New Year Comes

Today I woke up before 7:00AM which meant the first hints of daylight were only just popping up on the horizon. My reasons for being awake srenot glamorous, but I took the opportunity to sit in my little room where I have my yoga space, tarot and oracle decks, and some of my favorite plants. I set my phone aside and talked to Dan about my hopes for the new year ahead, what I would like him to help me with, and said I was ready for our connection to keep growing in whatever way that it is meant to, without force or stress in knowing what that means.

I watched the sunrise. Uninterrupted by notifications or alerts. I watched the colors burst then settle into their normal patterns for daytime. I watched little birds flitter around the trees in my back yard. I breathed and watched. My word for 2021 is presence. This moment felt very much aligned with that. And I look forward to more moments in the year ahead.

I feel hopeful. I feel calmer. I feel very much ready to ease into this phase of my life with grace and presence.

Happy New Year.

Not Just for Coffee!

You know what is something you definitely do not anticipate having to decide in your 30s? What urn you want your husband’s cremated remains to be placed in once they come back from the crematorium. And wow, do they have a lot of urns. But that’s not exactly what this is about. This is about what happens when your darling late husband has charged you with scattering some of his ashes “in a place that’s beautiful,” it’s 3:00AM, your cats are at the vet for boarding, no other living thing is in the house, and you can’t sleep before your flight out of the country. I had just cleaned and removed the labels of two pill bottles** and felt ready to start the next step. The plan was simple: take the bag out, cut a small corner off (thank you to my friend D for this idea), and slowly pour into the bottles until full.

Except there was a problem.

I picked an urn that was narrow at the bottom (where the opening is) and tapered wider at the top. Look, I didn’t think about how they get ashes into an urn. When, prior to this moment, would I ever have thought about these things? Certainly not when I said, “I do.” I didn’t think about how they put a bag inside of the urn, and THEN transfer the ashes in. This means the ashes/bag fill out the shape of the object they are placed in. Simple physics. What this also means is you cannot take said bag OUT of the urn to neatly pour the ashes into the bottles for international transport.

Shit.

I was picturing my kitchen island, floor, myself, and anything within a 10 foot radius completely covered in the remains of my husband if I tried to pour while holding the urn. Did I mention I picked a marble urn? Those damn things are not lightweight. Past Me was not thinking of Future Me at all here. I stared at it, still turned upside down, for a good fifteen minutes or so wondering how I was going to do this as cleanly as possible. I wasn’t giving up, his ashes were coming with me one way or another, damnit. I don’t know if the wee hours of the morning are prime for inspiration, but inspiration eventually came.

I needed a scoop of some kind, but was absolutely NOT going to use any of my kitchen spoons. I wanted to eat off those things again without the image of cremains all over them. What else would work…? I looked over at our drip coffee maker. BINGO! I had misplaced the scoop a month or so before, and just ordered a new one off of Amazon. It came in a two-pack. Perfect, one to use for coffee, one for ashes. I let Past Me off the hook.

I fished the extra scoop out of the drawer and began to do what clearly would be one of the most confusing images anyone peering through a window would see: Me, at 4:00AM now, scooping ashes with a coffee scoop into empty pill bottles laughing. Dan did love coffee…. a lot. This seemed fitting. And ridiculous. But also, functional?

I placed the caps on the two bottles and neatly closed up the bag, screwed the urn cover back in place, and returned my beloved husband’s remains back to their spot. Done and done. I keep the extra scoop in a plastic baggie separate from the one for coffee and have “ASHES” written in big letters on the bag. You wouldn’t want to mix those up…. ew.

That scoop has served it’s additional purpose well. Occasionally, I wonder if I should leave that in a review. Widows need all the life hacks we can get. At any rate, this is just a glimpse into the weird moments your life contains when you have been through a completely shitty experience. And I thank the universe for it, because I needed that laugh at 4:00AM.

wordsbykrissie.com © 2020

**I got this idea from another widow. Take the label off and they are perfect for travel. Security is absolutely not supposed to open cremated remains, so this allows them to still be visible if they want to do an inspection. Don’t forget the certificate, and it helps to learn how to say “I have the cremated remains of {mother, husband, cat, etc.} with me” in whatever language of the place you are traveling to. I’ve only been inspected by TSA, but it never hurts to be prepared!

Thought Dumps No. 2

In October, I let go of the opportunity of having Dan’s children. Possibly even becoming a mother at all. Not sure I even want motherhood at this point. I’ll be 38 in less than three months. Some days I think about the decision, yet never with regret. Pregnancy announcements hurt deep, but the pain is strange now. Hurting for something you know you don’t really want anymore. Maybe your mind will change. Maybe it will take a new person to get there. Maybe. So many maybes.

And yet, I’m not seeking out a serious relationship. There is a pandemic still going on, dating seems like so much effort. I’m still clearing out the wreckage, letting things go, saying the goodbyes. Goodbyes that would be tainted were another person along for the ride. Plus, there’s the self-discovery, finding comfort in the loneliness. Making yourself your new home base. I’m falling in love with the “me” time. With my solitude. With figuring out where my life is going.

Where is my life going?

I don’t know. I never liked the “where do you see yourself in five years” questioning. It made me uncomfortable. Five years is a lot of time. What can happen in five years? Cancer. That can happen in five years. Sometimes even less.

Falling in love can also happen. And out of it, and back in it again. Rekindling the fires that slow burned in your heart space. Discovering. Exploring. Interests that you didn’t think you’d like. Maybe past you would have hated them.

But you love them now.

One step ahead, maybe two. Nothing more. This is the middle phase. You don’t have your ending yet. You don’t have the plot sorted. Do people want to read a story that goes “And then he died. And then it got weird…. and then….?” The part that comes after the last “and then” is just too murky to place. It could go anywhere. Or everywhere.

One step ahead, maybe two. Try to enjoy this middle.

Just be present.

wordsbykrissie.com © 2020