With any loss, there are stages of emotions that one goes through. For me, with the loss of my childhood home and the loss of my professional work place coming hot on the heels of each other, there was little time to dwell on the ramifications or to see rationalizations of these events; it all happened too quickly. I was still living the losses, without having time to fully understand them.
But, a funny thing happened the very day after my school closed......summer vacation began.
In a previous post, I have written that, even under "normal" circumstances, there is a transitionary period for teachers that follows the last day of school; a time of emotional and psychological decompression that has to happen before we are can truly unwind and appreciate the beauty of the sand and surf and sunshine that awaits.
But, this time, this particular year, the first day of summer vacation presented me, not with blue skies and soft breezes but, instead, with a sudden loss of structure to my days when I needed the crutch of routine more than ever. Vacation time plunged me into isolation from the very people I had so deeply shared the previous two losses; my mother, my students and my colleagues at school. Suddenly, I was faced with something that I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with and that was.....my own life.
As if some cosmic entity had snapped it's fingers, my Life's purpose of service to others dissolved and into the vacuum of its' absence flooded the people, places and activities that often fail to get the attention they merit when I am busy being the "public me". My family rushed to the forefront of my days and soon I found myself watching parades and fireworks, attending barbecues, gardening, cycling and doing odd jobs around the house. My days filled up with obligations and invitations and I went to bed each night fatigued from the social onslaught of it all. It seems difficult to complain about a life filled with action and frivolity. But, as anyone familiar with loss and grief will understand, until you go through the stages of loss and get to a place in your life where you can, at long last, give yourself permission to smile and feel happiness again then, it is hard to feel the joy that family and freedom should bring.
After a week or so of mindless idleness on my own time, my wife asked me what I was doing with my iPad for hours each night after the kids went to bed. Was I reading a book? Was I writing? Actually, I wasn't doing much of anything. I mainly read my Twitter feed and my Facebook newsfeed and watched from afar, the ups and downs of your lives. But, I had no real interest in those lives. I did not read any writing challenge entries or offer an encouraging comment. I did not write even a single haiku. I played no logic puzzles nor did I learn any new skills or crafts. I simply, mindlessly, numbingly, flicked my fingers on my iPad screen and watched your world passing me by.
But, it is funny how the unexpected can change your life. I mentioned this in Part-I when I told how the severe Ice Storms of last winter were what caused my mother to realize she could not longer realistically stay alone in her own home. For me, in my world, in the depths of my doldrums, came an email from someone I have never met but, according to her, someone whose life I have touched with my words.
A year or so ago, I was a participant in a writing challenge. One of the other participants was a young lady who wrote a heartbreakingly angst-filled poem about the difficulty she and her husband were having trying to have a baby. She posed the question as to whether or not she and her husband should give up trying. After reading this, I did what any semi-compassionate, kind-hearted human being would do, I wrote her back and told her that the miracle of childbirth was worth waiting for and to keep believing that magic is possible for good people like her and to not give up because it was going to be ok. I knew this because it was what my wife and I went through before our first daughter was conceived. It was an anxiety-laded, tear-filled experience that wasn't very pleasant at times but, we managed to conceive in the end and having our daughter completely changed our lives for the better.
So, as I powered up my computer and saw a message from this lovely soul, I smiled my first real smile in almost nine weeks. Following her link to my blog and subsequently discovering the nine weeks of inactivity, served as the jolt I needed. Her email, so optimistic and hopeful and rooted in my words, has caused me to examine my angst and forced me to acknowledge that my grief was real and needed to be dealt with rather than allowed to fester as it had. If my words could cause happiness and hopefulness in my readers then, perhaps, they could help heal me, too, in the words of singer Joe Jackson, "because my hearts' seen too much action."
I am still coming to terms with the new reality of my life in Nova Scotia and my life next Fall at my new school. I will try my best to make the best of both situations. I will try to embrace change as being the positive and necessary force that it tends to be in all of our lives. I can't guarantee that I will be successful but, I am determined to try. Part of my therapy is writing to all of you. You, my friends with the souls of poets, who know the power of words to heal and renew.
Thanks for reading my words. They are the first steps in the journey forward. I know, my friends, that you "get it". I appreciate your beautiful hearts and souls.