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Kira Elliott First day spring

This is My New Normal

Kira Elliott First day spring

“Do not wait for the healing to arrive. It will never come. The holes will never leave or be filled with anything at all. But holes are interesting things.” ― Augusten Burroughs

I am sitting still looking out the window at yet another flat grey day that is reflecting how I feel inside. Fat red belly robbins bounce across the dead grass in the dim morning light. Thick frost covers the roof tops and car windows as the sky turns light grey on this first day of spring. Only spring here in Detroit is slow coming. It unfolds in fits and starts as if it is not quite sure it is ready to leave the hibernation of winter. I too am unsure I am ready for longer days, sunshine and more activity.

My fingertips are cold as they wander over the keyboard typing and deleting, a never ending cycle as I try to pull threads of what I want to say, what I need to say out of the hidden places inside. I have been quiet, too quiet, these last few months. It feels as if something is shifting deep inside and rearranging things. I feel purposeless, not sure what or why I am doing things. Perhaps something is growing inside, taking all my energy to make something new. Maybe all these seeds I’ve planted over the last few years about being good enough are finally taking root. Or maybe it is more simple than that? Maybe it is a simple case of SAD, Seasonal Effective Disorder, that has robbed me of my normal enthusiasm.

Or maybe it is grief, once again holding me underwater, making it hard to breathe. After all the first day of spring is the anniversary of D’s death from lung cancer. I know better than to disrespect grief, even when I tell myself it’s been four years now and I should be fine. The reality is while it is not white searing hot pain like the first few years, it still hurts. The loss was huge. I still think about him everyday. Tears still trickled down my face every morning last week as sat on my meditation cushion each morning.

Last night I sat on the floor in the corner of the living room, wedged between the end of the couch and an old cabinet I painted red about 20 years ago, looking through old pictures for picture of my son Max, D and myself.D max and me train 98 I wanted to find the one of the three us standing in front of a train in Berlin. We were exhausted from over 24 hours of travel on our way to Poland for more physical therapy for Max.

Stashed away in this cabinet in the corner of my living was my life story told in hundreds of snapshots haphazardly stacked and stored in boxes, envelopes and even an old crumpled brown paper bag. I sat there flipping through pictures of my son Max 5 days old coming home from the hospital, a turquoise binky plugged in his mouth, 1-year-old Max sitting on my lap while I read him Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s, 21-year-old me living in Kentucky, tan and tone from working in the tobacco fields, or 30-year-old me in art school, hair dark and curly, looking exhausted but content.

Woven into the very fabric of my story, was D. There he was with 25-year-old me when Max got his first wheelchair. D was the strong one when it came to Max’s Cerebral Palsy. I wanted to wait longer to get the first wheelchair. I wanted to hide the fact my son needed a wheelchair, I didn’t want it to be true. D, said he needs to D Max first wheelchairget around by himself, this is going to be his life. Then there was the one of the two us looking down and laughing on a bright sunny day at Max’s 5th birthday party. A party filled with other kids with disabilities we had met from traveling to a physical therapy clinic in Poland. Poland gave us hope and we looked forward to the future. Or one of my favorites, where we are both standing in his backyard looking down into a hole filled with my ceramics for my first authentic pit fire. He is holding a red gasoline can and a cigarette is hanging out of his mouth. I am holding a fish head I will throw into the fire to flash minerals on to surface of my pots. (He did mind that I dug a six-foot hole in his backyard without asking but he loved helping me make a fire that would burn for days.) He was there at every holiday, significant moment and everyday dinners too even though we had divorced when Max was only one and half years old. D was, no is, part of my life story.

I tend to want to know the why of what I am feeling, so I can do something about it. Especially if I am feeling flat, blue and unenthused as I have been. You know take care of it, make it go away. One thing I have learned from losing D is that somethings are not meant to get over or go away. There is no fixing this. You don’t heal from loss like this. I have a huge hole in my life. The man who I loved and was part of my life for well over 25 years is gone. As Augusten Burroughs says, I am learning to live with my holes and trying to understand how they are interesting.

The missing lives in my bones now. This is my new normal. I am not sure you stop missing what was once so much a part of you.

Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Some Things Just Hurt by Sharon Salzberg- This says it all. It is about learning to feel the hurt. There is no magic or anything. We are human. We are going to hurt.

He Rescued a Dog, Then the Dog Rescued Him– This is a great story and makes me want to get a dog. Well, I think I am happy with my cats for now but animals add so much to our lives.

A Basic Skill We Should Have Learned As Kids via Raptitude- Naming and understanding our basic emotions. It wasn’t until I started a daily journal practice in earnest when I was 25 was I able to start naming my emotions.

Know Your Why by Kate Courageous- Just the simple question of, has your life turned into a personal growth project, stopped me in my tracks. Read this awesome post.

Three Things Grief Taught Me by Anna Oginsky  – Anna is one of the most warm-hearted and genuinely kind person I have ever met. I love her description of grief and how it never goes away but we do gain so much from it, if we let it. I know for myself the loss of D has opened my heart in ways I never thought possible and it lead me to this amazing community online.

P.S. You Might Also Like Grief is Hard Work, Reflections on Grief, and Thank You Loss for Teaching Me to Grow

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3 Responses to This is My New Normal

  1. Barbara DeCoursey 5 March 20, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

    “The missing lives in my bones now” is beautiful.

  2. Becca Rowan March 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

    You know I need all this right now. Thank you.

  3. Christine Flynn April 2, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    I have been following you since we both took an online photo course. I had lost a person and things at the time and we all connected on some level. I enjoy your writing and have’t checked into this email address for a while. I often wondered about what the people you write about looked like and today I found out about D and your son. You are very courageous. I also still have grief in my life. My husband has a disease that makes me experience loss a little every day. Not sure which way of grieving would be better. I would choose neither. Thank you for you honest writings.

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