Hope floats on notes and sunshine

It’s been nearly 45 minutes since I sat down to write this column and I am doing everything BUT writing it.
I’m following all the traditions that I usually do each Monday to set me up for the task—hot coffee at the ready, good music, comfortable clothes, and all the notes I’ve written myself in the last seven days.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s all about the notes.
Last spring, Jon bought me a pocket notepad called “Great Ideas,” for those light bulb moments he’d witnessed me having when I was devoid of paper and instead used a pen to chicken scratch the idea on my forearm.
At first Jon thought it was cute, until that time I was having a brainstorm about my dogs and—with no paper to write it on—borrowed a pen from someone at the next table and wrote “nuttier than squirrel turds” on my arm while we were out to dinner one night.
The next day, he came home with the “Great Ideas” notepad and I’ve never been without it since.
But today when I copied the memos to my laptop like I do every week, I noticed there are only three pages left on the notepad and suddenly I felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.
The gifts that Jon bought for me during our time together all are writing-related and mean the world to me.
Three of them are books Jon learned about because he was a very good listener when I talked. They were on a bookshelf that I’d seen in a photograph of the late Andy Rooney.
The fourth gift was the “Great Ideas” notepad and although I think he bought it to save my skin, I’m feeling a bit of “writer’s block” looming when the last page is used up.
But then again, I shake my head and snicker. I doubt there’ll be a bump in the creative process.
My 21-year-old daughter arrived home from college on Friday and if nothing else, I could spend the next three months talking about the notes I’ll be pinning up everywhere to remind her to pick up her laundry, do the dishes, and shut off the light when she leaves her bedroom.
I jest. Her company will be among the many gifts I am thankful for these days.
Those moments of gratitude extend to both ends of the spectrum and into the night air that I inhale for the scent of skunk that will come a’ calling with the arrival of the expedited warm weather.
I still breathe easy; as yet the air is clean and clear.
But every time I let the dogs out for a pee before bedtime or in the minutes before daylight each morning, I cringe at what I’m guaranteed to soon be mixing more times than I care to admit—the recipe of dish soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a generous sprinkling of pet-friendly fabric softener.
It is unavoidable in my neck of the woods.
Unavoidable, too, is the heart homework that beckons after a 14-day respite. I must compile a graph of all the losses I can recall from my life for discussion at my upcoming counselling session.
This is the fork in the road where I’m told many people who are in grief recovery counselling stop going because the impact of facing the reality of life loss, and its unfinished business, is just too painful.
“Until you heal your past, you will continue to bleed and bleed and bleed.”
I heard that in a movie once. I wrote it down. I never knew when I’d need to use it. I guess that time is now.
If I was being unloving of myself, I wouldn’t go back to counselling. On the contrary, I do love myself very much and I want to know what I’m holding on to that holds me back.
And I’m pretty sure I’m about to find some “stuff” that I haven’t completed and that hasn’t gone anywhere but underneath.
To my own credit, though, I have to say that when I was on my walk Saturday morning in the incredible sunshine, and watching the geese map out their field nests, I think I took a step forward.
Indeed, in the beauty of the moment, I thought how sad it was that Jon wasn’t there to enjoy it with me.
In the last nine weeks, a thought like that meant I would continue to wear a dark pair of glasses through my entire day. But in the circumstance of Saturday morning, I was able to feel the sadness and then put it down and let go and choose to feel peace and, dare I say, happiness.
The realization right then of being able to make that happen in the context of my day was amazing and indeed it made me cry, not from a place of sadness—but from understanding that it was the first time I purposefully had chosen to do that since Jon died.
And that, my friends, means hope is peeking through.

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