“Your heart is the conduit and radiator of your multidimensional self.” ~ Sarah Entrup
One moment I knew joy, light, laughter, and the peace of a clean house and freshly rearranged bedroom.
On Friday March 4, 2016, my sister and her boyfriend, my nephew and his wife, and I awaited my boyfriend’s arrival and anticipated a night out at The Melting Pot.
After his non-arrival and numerous calls completed with the final words of the officer explaining unresponsive meant dead, I shifted into a sh*t storm of sadness so deep it felt like living below the earth.
I twirled, swirled, fought, and finally gave into the mourning. The tears shocked me with shrieks and howls fit for an animal.
I was an animal in pain.
I lost my will to live as quickly as I learned of my beloved’s death.
I had to live for my sister, who’d experienced the death of her husband just four years prior. I couldn’t intentionally inflict this pain on anyone, but my choice would’ve been to go to sleep and never wake up, like my boyfriend Kevin did (heart attack in his sleep).
Often, people who’ve lost loved ones worry about them in the afterlife. That’s never been my concern. Not with my brother, mother, brother-in-law, or beloved.
I know they’re in a better place. Not la-la-la harps and angels, but beautiful beyond our imagination. I believe the afterlife multiplies everything a person loves.
Like my brother Bill can ski soft, deep powder, fly off jumps, and never break skis or bones the way he did on earth. I envision my mom sewing costumes for better-than-Broadway plays. Tom Gerlach, my brother-in-law owns all the cars he wants, and the 50s car shows he felt so fond of here are bland compared to the ones on the other side. As for Kevin Lentz? Rock-n-roll means musical ecstasy and star showers are light shows.
I also believe our loved ones go on with other purposes in the afterlife.
However, these beliefs only make me jealous and crave to be with them even more.
I gave way to the whirlwind of grief. I let it spin me, slap me, pound me. Over time, my grief transformed from a tornado I was caught in to an ocean in which I tried to swim.
I may have looked cute in my suit, but I always wore the grief. It engulfed me.
Until it didn’t. I’m not saying I’m over it, but maybe I’ve moved my blanket to the sand beside the ocean. I see both the power and beauty.
I respect grief’s strength and don’t delude myself that I can control it any more than I could fend off my loved ones’ deaths.
There will still be days when grief arises and surprises me like high tide takes down morning sand castles.
I’m on the beach of life, the land of the living. Storms exists. Affirmations don’t dismiss.
Yet, we each decide how we’ll engage our days on earth.
Looking down the beach at the crowds, I’m far from alone in what it’s taken to get here, back to appreciation and celebration of my own heartbeat.
I’m not referring to the positive platitudes we say to make ourselves feel better.
No, it’s magical metamorphosis, the beautiful beyond that calls us to crack out.
Before Kevin’s death, I studied self-development, personal growth, positive thinking, and pop psychology religiously. I was a believer.
After, it all felt fruitless.
The whole you can get anything you want if you just affirm, believe and work at it doesn’t apply to bringing back the dead (although I still try).
Life felt like a rigged game, as random as roulette.
I felt ripped off—after numerous relationships didn’t fit and then finding ourselves blessed with the deepest fulfillment either of us had known—our crazy, sexy, cool was cruelly snatched by sudden, unexpected death. WTF?!
Now, two years later, I’m reminded of a trip years ago, (before the time I went with Kevin). When visiting Wrightsville Beach, I was told the waves were strong: Watch out!
Nevertheless, my sister and I stood in waist high water chatting—safe with our feet solid on the sand.
In a blink, a big wave knocked us both on our butts. When I came up, my Maui Jim sunglasses were gone.
Just gone. Like Kevin.
Now, I’ve come to respect nature’s power and know I’ll lose both sunglasses and people in my life. Doesn’t mean I like it!
Maybe I’m a little wiser now. For years, I resisted getting another pair of expensive sunglasses because I despised the disappointment of loss. I went for dozens of pairs of cheap sunglasses.
Recently, a friend gave me some high-end super spectacles. Just putting them on gave me a case of coolitis. My vision is sharper. They fit like a favorite pair of jeans. Wearing them makes everything brighter.
Of course, I’m careful not to lose them.
Maybe I’ve done the same thing with love—been afraid to invest, or even believe in, having the high quality again.
That’s no way to live. Not for me.
When my road ends, I intend to be able to repeat my grandfather’s experience and words: “I’ve had a lot of loss, but I’ve had a lot of love.”
So, I’ve booked another trip to the beach. With or without Kevin, I’m bringing back my crazy, sexy, cool… self.