This is My New Normal

Kira Elliott First day spring

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.

D max and me train 98

D max and me train 98

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. 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.

D Max first wheelchair

D Max first wheelchair

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 get 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.