I am watching Under the Tuscan Sun for perhaps the fifth or sixth time, having purchased the DVD used, from VStock. There is something about this story that is soothing at this time, the season of being out on my own, having moved from my son and daughter-in-law's guest bedroom to a studio apartment a couple of miles away.
I babysat the grandchildren this morning. It is Mother’s Day and my son took his loving, adorable wife golfing. That’s important, spending time together as a couple, without the kids. Returning to the apartment, my dog (Harley) and I took a nap, and I did a batch of laundry. The pool—I walk by it on the way to the laundry—is turning from dense green to an inviting clear. New patio furniture appeared this past week on the terrace below the deck of the welcome center. I am looking forward to swim days with the grandkids at grandma’s cool pool house.
Despite this, I remain lonely.
Recently the social worker who leads the grief support group sent a link to an article on mourning. Following a couple of the links within the article I read something I hadn’t thought of before: prolonged grief or sadness or depression may alter how the brain works. The pathways of thought potentially become ingrained, habitual. In the nearly two years since my husband died, is the time spent in extended grief-sadness-depression day-after-day changing the pathways in the brain from joy and a sense of belonging to sadness and a sense of hopelessness? Yes. This feels true—a “new normal” if you will.
I find that I do not wish to love again, that “brick walls” surround me and these walls are just high enough to keep distance between me and possible new friends. These walls are not the 30-foot-high stone walls with guillotine gates that I first discovered within myself after reading Allender’s Wounded Heart and beginning to explore the my own story, my strengths and weaknesses. Nor are my current walls the sturdy fences with gates which let things pass through like sunlight, moonlight, breezes, rain and humanity.
If today I were to describe grief as it relates to the loss of my lover, my husband, my friend, it is a hole within me that looks and feels frighteningly like a brown recluse spider bite, the skin continuing to die and pull away from the point the venom entered, forming a crater in the flesh. Yes it can and often does heal, though healing takes a long, long time.
Meanwhile there is pain. Not every-moment-of-every-day pain, but unexpected and often unwelcome occurrences, as though someone has snuck up behind me and pushed me down a steep hill or a flight of stairs. Then, every so often, there is the decent into the abyss, when whatever pushes me and its timing, hurls me endlessly downward.
God meets me there, in the abyss. God is not surprised.
God knows and rescues me.