June 17th 2020
This entry is pretty rambly.. I have cobbled it together with no real knowledge of what I was going to say, and where my thoughts might lead. I was worried that it was jumbled and perhaps not very coherent.. Then I thought - BOOM! There's grief right there! I usually try to put these entries together with as much poetic grace as I can, but today may be different! You decide. :-) As always, you can take it or leave it. Thanks for reading. Go in grace.
Well this is the big one. I’ve been holding this date in my mind since last year, with no real grasp of what life might be like beyond it. Everyone tells you the first 12 months are really hard; full of “firsts”; birthdays, anniversaries, seasons etc. For me it’s been a rollercoaster; I found myself in a flurry of activity in the second half of last year. It was almost like I had to show the world that I was OK, that I was “getting on with it” and “getting over it”… Then 2020 arrived with all its gifts and unique experiences, and it has (thankfully) stopped me in my tracks.
I have learned so much and taken the ups and downs as they have rolled by. I reckon you all know what I’m talking about. I miss him so much, even now, and I’m sure, for all time.
Sometimes I’ll just take a few hours and read our text message history (a 374 page PDF!) or watch some of our performance videos, or just scroll through our wedding shots. It catches me then – how can he not be here anymore? How can this shining, vibrant, crazy, funny, adorable creature be gone? The Billy-shaped hole in the world is still deep and wide, but perhaps the edges are a little softer now, and the hole has become part of the fabric of life. A little tear in the tapestry.
I’ve been sorting through all the things he left behind; much of it meaningless bits of paper and junk (thanks very much mate!) but I have stumbled across some pearls, including this, found in a journal he started. I’m not sure of its origin; I can’t say it’s from him but it’s not referenced.
“The imperfection of a scar should be seen as beautiful. It shows a wound dealt with.
The scars within us are much better than wounds not tended.”
I resonate with this saying. In one way, grief is a wound that needs tending.
But this is the thing; talk of wounds and scars implies that grief is a thing to “get over”; an illness, a condition which needs treatment. If I have learnt nothing else in the past year, it is this; grief is not something that needs to be, or indeed, can be, “healed”. All we can do is circle around the hole and bring it into our life which now looks different. Grief and loss are happening to all of us, all the time. Life is loss in so many big and small ways. Little potholes to step over, swerve around and sometimes fall into. I guess some losses are bigger than others, and it’s not for any of us to judge another in this respect. It is up to us all to simply hold each other in a loving supportive space while we stumble onwards through this weary wondrous world.
So 12 months? I don’t think so. I say bring back some form of designation, like the European widow wearing black, but make it so there are no rules around how long you display it. It lasts as long as it does. And then we’ll see just how many of us are carrying around the weight of grief; unseen, unacknowledged, misunderstood. It may bring about a more compassionate world and help us realise how connected we all are. It may also spark more conversations around death, grief and loss, helping us all to grapple with the inevitable fate that awaits each one of us and in so doing, perhaps lead to an easier approach to aging, illness and death and a greater appreciation of life.
I know that Bill was committed to this “grappling” and he journeyed towards his death with open-eyed courage and grace, all the while affirming life and all its remaining gifts.
I was blessed to be a witness to this demonstration, and I am forever changed by it. I hope that when my time comes I am in a position to emulate his example. And until that time I will continue to offer encouragement to anyone who wants it, to do the same.
Life is a beautiful tapestry.. and it’s ancient, and there are little tears in so many places, places where the threads have been pulled, or something caught and pushed the thread out of its perfect place. Our lives, our tapestries, are covered with the handprints of those we love and have loved, and these handprints are what makes the weave so magnificent. We bend and move and allow, and others leave their mark and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want to, nor could I possibly, “move on” from Billy. His handprint is all over my tapestry, and part of his has been integrated in me, and in everyone who loved him. And we pass ourselves around like this, weaving and joining together in the cosmic tapestry of life. I remain unutterably grateful that I got to meet him and that we decided to play along and weave our story into it too.
So keep playing! And accept that there will be missing threads, and sometimes holes, and blotches, and frayed edges. But it’s the only game in town. Love is what makes all of this worth it.
I have included a song, “Luminous Places” from Patty Griffin. (UPDATE *Apparently, I haven't! This blog site pretty much won't let me do that, so go look for the song yourself and download it!) When I heard it, it just reminded me of Bill for reasons I can’t easily define. In the end, he tried to live and love as best he could; freely, fiercely, consciously and with integrity and authenticity. Yes, he often missed the mark (don’t we all?), but this should never stop us from giving it our all. That’s what he has left me with; a path to follow, a little voice in my head that sometimes says “What would Bill do?” (I know this is pretty funny!). Just keep showing up and allowing the life force to have its way with us.
I love yas all!