Dear Soul Beings,
It is another startlingly beautiful New Mexico morning as I walk through the overgrown path behind my house, heading out to the arroyo. I feel the wind shuffling the grasses and the leaves on the aspens are glittering. The earth is wet from recent rainfall that has amped up the growth and color of the vegetables in the garden. I feel these subtle shifts, signaling the beginnings of a season’s change.
Nothing staying still or the same. Tall grasses growing dry and brown, despite the recent moisture. Still, the rains have brought out color in the desert. Flowers blooming radiantly as I near the arroyo.
Not too long ago, it seemed, it was too hot to walk in the arroyo, but today is perfect and my Alaskan Eskimo dog is running like she’s a puppy again. It’s a joy and a relief to be in Nature. I read an article recently that showed how taking a walk in nature could lower levels of brooding or obsessive worry. Worry creates more blood flow to the “subgenual prefrontal cortex. Increased blood flow to this region of the brain is associated with bad moods.” Walking in nature deactivates that blood flow. I have been in a state of worry for the past couple of weeks (at least) and in deep need of deactivation.
The weekend before my daughter’s school started, she found out that someone who had been a dear friend, only a year older than herself, had passed away unexpectedly. A brilliant young man – many of you may already know his story. Not only was he brilliant and a superb athlete, he had a heart of gold. He passed away because of an accident gone terribly wrong. The body has shifted to another form, and although his energetic spirit is alive, to say that the loss his family and the people who loved him are feeling is acute, is putting it mildly.
A fact of life. As real as the changing seasons, or the roar of an ocean wave pounding into the shore and pulling out. Temporal. Death and impermanence are things bigger than me and so difficult to assimilate. I cannot imagine how they affect a sixteen-year-old teenager. How can grief and loss understand impermanence? Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says there are five stages of grief:
As a mother, I could only think of this child’s mother and how she must be feeling. But I cannot imagine. I think of the time when I lost my father and how for years before that, I would say, the worst possible thing would be to lose my father. He was my rock, my inspiration, my touchstone of, “I’m alright in this world,” my anchor. When he passed, way too young, (sixty-seven), I went through these stages, but not in that order. First I sought to anesthetize myself with drugs, then dance, then work.
Depression was the bedrock of working myself to the bone. I’d work double shifts at Ten Thousand Waves doing massage and then collapse. Finally, my body started giving out and they told me,
“If you don’t take a break, we’re going to fire you.”
So I stopped. And the feelings came in a torrent. I would wake and start weeping. Hardly ate. Write. Weep and sleep. Walks in Nature helped. Conventional therapy didn’t, but drumming and taking a baseball bat to a pillow did. So did trance work with my lovely friend, Bente. In time, the grief healed. It’s been about twenty-five years. But to lose a child, that is a deep fracture of the heart.
As I write these words, I am reminded, that during the trials and tribulations of raising an adolescent, I am nevertheless, on-my-knees grateful, for the light of seen and unseen energies that protects this trinity of family. These are tender times.
Some days we swim in the blood of anger and chaos. She wants me to listen, only. To stop “momming.” I am meant to be the bank, to be supportive and loving, but never critical. At the bottom of the sea, our hearts are both screaming, LOVE ME!!! SEE ME!!! HEAR ME!!!! But sometimes we forget. Sometimes, I need to step away and not take the bait.
It helps also, that the doctor has diagnosed her thyroid condition as a contributory factor to the mood swings and that can be fixed with diet and medication. The challenges vary daily.
Today is a beautiful morning and I am grateful for my conversation with late-blooming desert flowers. In a month’s time the flame of Indian Paintbrush will be more prominent. The chamisa will bloom brilliant yellow and the astors will be their purple counterpoint. And then the ground will harden and all will turn brown. But that season has not yet arrived.