and Two Questions
How is it possible that Dan’s birthday–the second since his death–is already coming up eleven days from now? Surreal.
As a mom of seven, I am used to the arrival of ideas from one or another of my children. How to accomplish one solution or another…what flourishes to add–or ways to contain–an upcoming holiday celebration…or how to celebrate dad’s birthday together one year and four months after his death.
This year’s celebration, our second, will be held at a remote-ish beach that includes many, many (apparently MANY) stairs. Being quite out of shape at the moment, when I heard this suggestion I said,
Oh! So we will honor the memory of the father by killing off the mother!
Pardon my dark humor, please.
What I initially resisted I came to embrace.
I can take my time.
I can pack light.
I can do hard things.
I remind myself: Fear not the dance of widowhood. No matter the steps, just step into the dance. Perfection is not needed.
Rumi’s poem arrived to my consciousness regularly over the last year and four months’ kaleidoscope of feelings
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Rumi)
Taken from Selected Poems by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks (Penguin Classics, 2004).
Which brings me to the TWO QUESTIONS. This is something so helpful that I find myself talking about it often.
Any human can benefit from the two questions, but especially humans traveling the path of grief.
What am I feeling?
Sounds simple, right? But it is often NOT simple. What the heck am I feeling? Creating a habit of quieting oneself and contemplating one’s feelings makes it easier over time. It can become automatic. Before I speak in this moment….before I act in this moment….what am I feeling?
What do I need?
Do I need to step away? Do I need to journal and put sudden sadness or overwhelming fear on the page? Get it out and then explore next steps?
Do I need to ask for help? Is there something I can do right now to help myself when the guest house is getting loud with a ruckus of uninvited feelings?
Am I being “cleared out” for some new “delight”?
As I travel the path to the many, many (MANY) stairs at the birthday beach party, I commit to remembering the two questions.
In discovering what I need, I am empowered to act on my own behalf.
One thing I know for sure: feelings come and go. I need not fear them, or banish them, or lock myself away from things that feel overwhelming to me.
Just keep going, Kath (I tell myself)…just keep going.