“To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
I live with my sister. We’re both in our 50s, which means we’re perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves and we value communicating and checking in with each other.
We’ve learned accidents do happen and people we love sometimes die.
We balance these not-fun facts with our inclination toward optimism.
Last night, Jayne went out with a friend, which is also a treat for me, as I relish my time alone. I used it well last night.
I skyped with an advanced editing class from my old alma mater (Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul, MN). The students asked me thought-provoking questions about my blogging process and purpose.
After the meeting, I took notes about what I learned from them and how I’ll implement some of their ideas.
Inspired by virtually being in the classroom, I dove back into a book assigned in my first politics class: American Democracy in Peril: Seven Challenges to America’s Future. How far-fetched that felt in 2002!
After reading, hunger overtook me. I noted the time: 10 pm. My sister would be walking in the door soon.
I made cauliflower rice with sautéed kale and cabbage and plopped in front of the TV.
Around 10:30, I texted my sis just to make sure she was ok. It’s not typical of her to stay out late on a “school night.”
On Scandal, the old Olivia Pope had returned—or had she? The President was going down—or was she?
My sister still hadn’t texted back. Again, not like her. She’s an IT manager and the constant bing of work messages is her norm. She’s the prompt texter backer.
I told myself she was fine, as fear felt its way into my body, the kind that says saying things are ok doesn’t make them so if they’re not.
After all, the day my boyfriend Kevin was due to arrive but didn’t, when worry hung in the air, my sister’s boyfriend said, “It’ll be ok.”
I even tried to convince myself Kevin would burst through the door, larger than life, wrap his big arms that felt like home around me, and spin some crazy story the way only he could do.
But, we were wrong. He would not be walking through my door or anyone else’s ever again. He would never tell another story with his Lentz-man vocabulary.
Everything was not alright.
My beloved died in his sleep of a heart attack. That cruel fact cannot be overridden by my mind.
The news, the truth, the day my life transformed lives in my cells. My body knows.
So, until I heard back from my sister, I suppressed the possibility of a reality I’ll never be ready for.
I didn’t even know where she went to dinner, some Mexican restaurant. She could be anywhere in the city.
God, please let her be safe.
How would I find her if she didn’t respond? I could find her friend on Facebook.
Would I call her son, the cop in Michigan to ask him what to do? Or the one here, who called the police for me and got them to search the freeways Kevin intended to drive on, and then his home where they found him in his bed?
I wouldn’t want to worry my nephews without reason, but what if my sister was in a situation where time was of the essence and could possibly save her life?
Silly, these thoughts, I tried to tell myself. I’m not a worry wart, but my mind played the sport while I simultaneously resisted the churning in my stomach.
Until Jayne’s text: “I’m sorry. I’m good. Coming home soon.”
Ah, the message of peace. I crawled into bed unscathed, tired and happy.
This morning, on her way to work, Jayne apologized again. I’ve done it to her, too. It’s no big deal.
But, then I cried because I can’t bear the thought of going through that again. And because I don’t have to.
Not now. All is well.
My sister admitted she’s been pierced by grief’s arrow threatening the worst repeating.
After all, her husband determined to beat cancer, but that day never arrived.
Like our brother who didn’t make his destination from California to Tucson and died on the side of a desert highway (car accident).
Still, I believe in the power of prayer and positive possibility.
Beautiful memories like falling in love, dancing under the stars, and splashing down water slides also dot the map of my life.
I refuse to live in the worry zone, but sometimes I take a trip there, making me grateful to return home to my current safe and sweet realty.
6 thoughts on “How Grief Lives in our Cells.”
Thanks for this, Alice. I always get a lot from your writings–so honest, so right on about life, and yet you endure and make it good in your way, every time– at least for now. What can any of us know about how things will turn out–it takes lots of let go, The wisdom of insecurity is really all we can aspire to. I love the photos that accompany your pieces–they add a lot to the topic every time. 🙂
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Shelagh, I’m so appreciative for your investment in my writing. Yes, what a phrase: it takes lots of let go.
It was really heartbreaking to know you been through so much. Just live in the moment and enjoy every bit.
I’m on it. Thanks.