Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Happy/Sad Sandwich

A good, good friend of mine died a little bit ago. This last month + has been a surreal time, filled with lots of contrast. I'm really really feeling pregnant (well, cuz I really really am) and super elated to feel the baby kicking and squirming inside, obviously very excited to come out into this crazy, confused, beautiful world. Meanwhile, I'm in midst of such a deep loss and heartache around losing Steve. Today is my 40th birthday, and it stings that he is not here. An especially poignant experience of loss because he was soooo good at getting people to have parties, and he threw all my birthday parties for me for many years in a row. All that jubilance, love and light that he shared was offset by a lot of pain that he had inside, and all of it was held in the cradle of his efforts to become conscious, as he'd become aware that he'd spent his 20's and part of his 30's mostly just numbing out, shutting off from his own grief over some very difficult things that had happened when he was a boy. He became a yogi, and a meditator with fierce determination, often taking himself on 3 month long meditation retreats, multiple times in one year, in his intense efforts to integrate his loss and face it; efforts to heal. So he would dive into his pain, and then fly upwards, going maybe way too deep but then coming up to the surface and being the same goofy, jubilant, wack-o, loving Steve. His plummeting was scary for him, but his love for life and for his friends kept floating him up, as if buoyed by a strong updraft. It was if he was forgetting and then remembering his grief, or the inverse, forgetting and then remembering his lust for life.
In the same way, I forget about him, and then I remember. I break and then mend. Heart aches and then lifts again. It's like I'm in a sandwich of the ache and the blessings; squished like gooey jam between the boundaries of the good and the bad.
I'll have a little child soon, in just over a month; Dec 3 is the due date, they say (some docs said Dec 11, so who really knows?) I imagine that it will be hard to remember anything once the little baby is dominating my life, giving me one mustardy diaper after another and breaking my heart with love, which he is already managing to do from inside my belly. So this contrast of big opening happy heart and a lot of sadness is particularly intense; and perfect, I have to trust. Integration, I think, is what it's all about. Here's my favorite Rumi poem about love and grief, and opening and closing.

~
Birdwings

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always open you would be
paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and
coordinated as birdwings.
-RUMI

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