It’s a dream of sorts, to have no where to be but home.
It’s a luxury of sorts, to have time to rest and work, read and create in pace with the rhythms of my body.
It’s a bummer of sorts, to not be physically near friends and loved ones.
It’s a torment, for certain, that my father’s wife asked me to fly out to Oregon and help them find an apartment and move, but doing so would put both of them in great risk of contracting coronavirus.
When my father reaches out for help, I want to be able to say YES! To jet across the country and pour my energy and love over every square inch of his life. To surround him and his wife with a thick, golden, warm, sweet cloud of devotion and care. To ease their struggles, at least a little bit.
Yet my body reacted to their request with a strong “NO”.
Oh the guilt that stabbed through my chest! Spewing accusations of being a bad daughter, of being a selfish woman. The guilt threatened to suffocate my heart. How lucky for me, in the most fucked up of ways, that there was a global pandemic blossoming. How convenient to be able to point my finger at a virus and say to travel through cities and airports would put them at risk, so I must stay home.
It is true, after all.
This chat with my dad’s wife was close to a week ago. The pandemic is now in full bloom, and a life once known feels a distant memory. There’s a new normal of social distancing, of hyper-awareness of the dewy web of “who was here, where have they been” and “how long since they were possibly exposed” and “who am I potentially putting at risk”. Rapid-fire updates and drastic changes in a short amount of time breeds anxiety & fear. It quite literally hardens our nervous systems into brittle shells.
My shell finally cracked today. It cracked and crumbled as I surrendered to comfort from a friend. As I allowed myself to be tended to. I began to tell them about the conversation, and suddenly I was speechless. Words caught in my throat, blocked by a dense tangle of unexpressed emotion.
I closed my eyes and tuned into my sensations. Throat constricted. Salty tears pouring down my cheeks as hot waves of emotion radiated from my heart, washing over my body. I released control to the rolling waves of grief. What powerful waves they are! Powerful, yes. But never more than you can handle.
As the heavy shore break of emotion faded into gentle waves lapping on the shore of a lake, I opened my eyes. My body was relaxed, my heart open – and my throat still blocked. Tuning in to the depths of this experience I found relief – gratitude – sadness – love – and a deep aching longing to have devoted more time to him ‘before’. And then came a voice saying “you should have visited more.”
Regret – a not often considered aspect of grief. The Would’ves, Should’ves, and Could’ves feel like sinister opponents to sanity. These are the big, heavy, strong hitmen of Regret, and they will pummel a tender heart into the pavement as easily as a caterpillar is squished by an unsuspecting boot. Left there bruised, battered, and bleeding… what is a heart to do?
What does a heart do but keep on beating?
And so I am sitting with my regrets. I’ve invited the Would’ves, Should’ves, and Could’ves over for a pot of rose petal & tulsi tea and a platter of sweet honey cakes. There’s more water in the kettle, and a quiche in the oven. We will need the nourishment – this is sure to be a long visit.