Albert Camus wrote “in the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.’ I believe he was speaking of an emotional space, an essence. I am fighting my way through winter. This particular frost isn’t my illness per say but the changes in my life and of those around me because of it. In the time I needed support the most it simply was not there. Nor could I be there to hold them up as I always have. None of it is for a lack of caring but capacity. Some people are built for the tough moments in life. Others are not. And often we simply must secure our own oxygen masks first.
I will spare specifics of my personal life. It is not fair consumption for the web. Honestly some things should be held close, others even closer.
I took the day off work on Friday to take care of myself and to pack my things in preparation for my upcoming move. It didn’t happen. When the plans to pack fell apart I decided I might as well go to work, but my friend, one of the few who truly understand the depths of my grief, assuaged me otherwise. She knew how necessary it is to be good to myself. How deep the sadness ran in my veins. Some days I find myself fighting to stay afloat.
I knew she was right. I needed to let go. One thing I enjoy immensely is playing tourist in my own town. So my friend took me to the Chihuly glass museum. They let you bring in your camera and take photos. I was in my element, a kid in the candy store snapping away. My girlfriend fed just by watching me in my joy. (Honestly she deserves an award for patience.) But I felt so far from the grief and stress that has been choking me up late at night. And it worked- for a bit.
We finished our afternoon with a lovely lunch at the Edgewater, cocktail included. But once I got home I crashed. I fell asleep for an hour. You should know I don’t ever fall asleep midday. It showed me how much tension and stress I’ve been holding. It’s been overwhelming. I suppose it caught up with me.
Upon rising I made my way towards the Ave, needed to stretch my legs for a bit. But my body had other plans for me this evening. Sometimes I forget how fragile I can still be. Even before I was sick I’d forget- always so strong, so stubborn, and so stoic.
But there was no denying I didn’t feel well. My back ached, I felt nauseous and dizzy. I bought some water to hydrate the kidney and slowly made my way back to my room. I stopped to rest periodically (often) along the walk.
Lately the world has been asking me to swim upstream but I just don’t have the strength to fight the current. And to care for myself, truly care I will continue to float in a momentary stasis. I will not wage a war even if I should. The only fight I have to give is to me.
As I climbed into bed tonight I missed being able to just let go and know another will catch you. I missed being carried to bed and gently tucked into the covers. I missed having my belly rubbed when it ached; my hair stroked. I missed the feeling of dancing on my Dad’s feet. A kiss on the forehead, a home cooked meal.
The feel of a man’s hand placed in the small of my back. The touch of his cheek brushing mine as he leaned in to whisper in my ear. I missed a chest to lay my head upon, falling in to the rhythm of another’s heartbeat. Tonight was one of those nights I missed being held- the weight of my world momentarily suspended in another’s arms.
These are the nights I fall asleep reminding myself to “be soft. Not to let the world make me hard. Not to let pain make me hate. Not to let bitterness steal my sweetness.”
Because as Kurt Vonnegut reminds “Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
And it is. I spent the day today with a dear friend remembering just that. The world is a beautiful place. Today she was there to hold me up and let me play and wonder. I have the photos to prove it.