People say I’m doing better.  I suppose they are right. I have put on 10 pounds this year.  I’m more energetic, with a ready smile.  But grief is a funny creature; she lurks just under the surface, ready to crawl into my throat and choke me when I least expect it. 

August 2011. Her kidneys were failing but we found joy in each others presence.

I’ve felt depressed this week.  An astrologer thought it might have something to do with the position of Uranus.  As beautiful as it is to believe a distant blue dot could hold such planetary sway, I think its just that I miss my mom.  She was so wonderful to talk to.  Engaged, honest, warm.  The perfect confidante.  I can’t say I’m lonely, but I’m lonely for her. Its a deep ache that all the well-meaning loved ones in my life can’t alleviate.

I’m in Flagstaff for a conference, and there is something about a solo road trip that was good for me. As my tires spun up Interstate 17, I reached a place beyond my sadness. One where grief and joy can live together.  Because if the ache cannot be alleviated, then I must learn to be happy around, beside and within the  sorrow. 

I believe there is a place where you can mourn the rabbits or coyote or deer splattered on the highway, the bugs on the windshield, the suffering of all creatures everywhere.  Bemoan the missed opportunities, the past memories that were as unappreciated at the time as they were beautiful.  Long for the loves that left, and the ones who you could have loved but were never brave enough to.  The idea that never worked out, the dream that vanished into the ethers, the future you planned on but never came to pass.  Vanquished beauty.  Sickness. And in this place of mourning your heart can crack right open as you drive your car or van or truck into a beautiful Arizona sunset painted on a backdrop of purple mountains.  You can feel good as your trusty vehicle carries you up, up into those purple mountains, the steady whirring of tires a drone beneath your favorite songs pumping out of the speakers.  You are dazzled by beauty, by how lucky you are, how healthy your body, how full your life. In that moment you have it all, in the only way that matters: sadness and joy, laughter and tears, hope and pain, in perfect integration.

7 thoughts on “integration

  1. Martha Goudey

    People talk about “getting through” or “getting over” grief, as if it’s really something that will disappear one day. Grief is a life-long companion, especially after the loss of a beloved. Our task, as you have said so poignantly, is to learn to “be happy around, beside and within the sorrow.” Mom has been gone a year and five months. I miss her warm hands holding my cold ones, I miss her pat on my leg telling me, “It will all work out.” I miss her presence. Some days I imagine I can still talk to her, and so I do. But I’ve gone through the year of firsts. A hospice friend told me that there’s a 13-month biological window for grief. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but after the 13 months it did get easier…I can live around and beside and within the sorrow and go on. Beautiful post, thank you.

    1. bornbyariver Post author

      biological window… I’m not exactly sure what that means either but at the same time it seems to make sense, at least aesthetically/intuitively. there’s just no way to not miss our mother’s.

  2. kellig

    do not discount the position uranus (snicker). i have been struggling these past two weeks. depression, lack of energy, mom in my thoughts a lot. just a jumble of emotion and chaos. I have a little day spa, so i am in contact with women constantly, and a ever-changing parade of them. and more than half are struggling right now. undefined depression, or lack of motivation, overwhelmed… i am hearing it from many ladies.and I think, when it is such a widespread general feeling, over a vast array of ladoes/people, you need to consider the universe in the working. mercury is in retrograde, and that alone is a struggle. i need to look up planetary position for U, and see how that feeds in.
    and grief is a sneak. i broke down this week just seeing a tiny frail lady making her way down the street to the car. cried so hard i thought for a minute i was going to vomit. just be kind to yourself.

  3. Cousin Shana

    well am not good with words like you Cousin Katy, but i sure enjoy reading them. you are a great writer! or how they say great blogger. hehehe luv you ~ Shana

  4. Heart To Harp

    Such beautiful writing – you are writing your future, where the grief and the joy live side-by-side and where you live large enough to contain them both. I think grief thins the crust around our hearts and makes it easier to crack open in the presence of beauty and joy.


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