*Disclaimer: Grief is something many people don’t talk about. This post deals with grief…and healing. It still relates to my Artist-in-Residence program. It is very personal. It is very real. If this helps just one person be able to open up, face their grief and begin healing, then it’s worth posting. I know it was very healing for me to experience and also to write about! I believe this may be best read aloud by me, but I didn't want to spend another hour trying to figure out how to embed an audio file into this blog:)
January. The month my dad had his stroke that eventually killed him. The month he faded in and out of some other world, out of reach to me. I watched from the hospital bed, daily. Spent countless hours in the waiting room. One day painfully blurred into another. Weeks later, still January, some “progress”, and a room change out of Intensive Care. Flowers bloomed and they withered. People visited and they left. Hope, like the tears, came and went. There were moments, as January was finally wrapping up, when he tried to smile and talk, albeit as if he had taken one too many hits of acid. But by that point, just to hear my dad speak any word was reason to dance. And then as quickly as these moments of optimism came, they were violently dashed against the wall as the silent, empty stare stole back his face.
And on and on and on the next five months drifted into June like a dark, stormy fog clinging to the ocean just as my dad clung to his life. Weeks turned into days into minutes into the final seconds and then into nothing, because time ceased and the world literally stopped spinning. And then as if he needed to play just one more joke, a couple more breaths before the most sacred moment of peace and everlasting love. What an excruciating blessing to witness.
January. Three years later. I am walking in the desert. It is morning and the light dances amongst the Painted Desert landscape. My mind is consumed trying to conjure up and replay every possible detail I can remember from that January. They begin slowly, painfully, and then suddenly I am trapped in a flash flood of details and emotions. I try to scramble out of the wash as January plays out, but another current peels me from the muddy bank. And here comes February, March, April, May, and finally the boulders of June come crashing down off the mesas and buttes around me. The details blind me with pain. I struggle to breathe.
It is dark. Somewhere a feeling occurs. A hum. I don’t know it, nor know where it is, but eventually my awareness is fully on it. I begin to feel the warm, dry Earth beneath me. I smell the Sunshine as her gentle fingers pry open my eyes. It is too bright to see. And then a dark speck appears. Two. Fifty. Thousands of hummingbirds darting all around. Every possible color is represented; even colors I never knew existed. And hummingbirds can smile? They are all smiling and laughing, and they decorate me in the most beautiful feelings of peace.
I am walking in the desert. My dad is all around me. He is the Sun and the breeze. He is the ice crystals that cover the small puddles like shards of glass. He is the hawk, the deer, the rabbit, the coyote. He is the 200 million years old petrified wood littering the red, sandy Earth. He is everywhere. He is inside of me.
I am smiling.
I am laughing.
I am healing.
It is January.