Out of the Ruts

IMG_0906Michigan weather and a county with little remaining plowing budget have found me driving in ruts. My street, a narrow slip that, with a car parked at the edge, allows only single-file traffic, is covered with several inches of ice. Two tire-sized ruts provide the only path, and transferring a vehicle from those ruts to a driveway or the other way ’round takes intention and precision if one doesn’t want to skate into another car or simply spin one’s wheels. Those ruts hold the car tight, however, albeit with a fair amount of jostling within them. There’s safety in the ruts, even with the daily morning glaze of ice. The nausea-inducing ride in them is far from pleasant, but while in these ruts, you’re not apt to end up sideswiping a car or ending up in a snow bank.

Driving in these physical ruts led me to think about the metaphorical type, the kind that we say we want out of yet not badly enough to risk the leap; the one that may leave us skidding into the unknown or simply spinning our wheels in frustration. There can be an odd comfort in even our most painful ruts, perhaps because we know the jostling they bring, which can sometimes seem more comforting than whatever road might lay beyond those well-worn grooves.

Six years ago tonight, my rather messy disaster of a marriage turned far more chaotic. Years of worsening arguments and other insanity came to a head, and by the end of March 2, 2008, I lived alone with two children. I’d like to say that I never looked back after that day. The episodes that led to the shrinking of our household should likely never open one’s mind to reconciliation, and I’m still uncertain why, that for almost another year, I fought for that chance to return to healthy married life. It was, as they say, likely desired for the children, although children are always better off away from violence and deception. It took me almost a year for me to realize that the loss on March 2nd was best accepted and better for all.

Every February since, starting somewhere in the middle of the month, I feel the downward pull. It’s a tug towards some wintery mix of sadness and anger, tinged with a bit of guilt and touched with disbelief that the whole nightmare — years of it — was mine. I don’t blink at our anniversary and can’t even recall the date of our divorce, but that Sunday night in March, along with the weeks preceding it, are still hard to bear. While my grief takes different forms different years, at some point, I find myself in the ruts of revisiting that past — the day itself, then the weeks around it, then the years that came before. It’s a nausea-inducing ride of pain and sadness, yet I fall into those grooves each winter.

Last year, happily enjoying the first year of love with the peaceful, honest, and faithful man whom I’ll soon call my husband, I almost missed it. Mid-February found me thinking about the date, but little emotion came. For the first time, I felt some detachment, some ability to not let those memories play over and over, with all the emotions returning during the reruns. The actual date caught me off guard. I’d actually forgotten, until, at some point near the end of the day, I remembered. Into the ruts I fell.  I cried with company, and the sorrow left more quickly. I started to think those ruts had passed for good or at least that their hold on me had loosened.

This year, the heaviness started over a week before the date. I felt the familiar grooves after landing with a thud, and drove along their familiar path. It’s been a long season, and, like many of us who are suffering cabin fever in what is truly the worst winter many of us have ever seen, I’ve had some dip of mood. Perhaps my upcoming nuptials contributed to my mind’s unexpected plunge into the darkness of six years earlier. While I’ve largely concluded I’m capable of being part of a healthy marriage, of loving someone deeply without losing myself (a self only really found in the past dozen years), of being loved deeply and without reservation, I’m prone to worry that at points borders on panic.

I don’t question whether I had a role in my marriage’s slide into disaster. I know myself when I’m anxious — grasping, afraid, demanding of answers to all that confuses and scares me, angry, wordy — and those last years found me anxious beyond what I’d known previously. I also know what most of us know about making relationships better: I could have listened more and talked less. I could have sat with my anxieties before throwing them at another. I could have let go just when I most want to grasp tightly. In a million ways, I  know I could have loved better. Couldn’t we all?  I don’t, however, take all the blame for the nightmare that was the years before that particular March 2nd, nor any for what happened that night. I did many things over many years that didn’t help, but ultimately, we are responsible only for what we choose to do with our hands and hearts. We are sovereign that way.

Somewhere in the past few days, the dread and deafening doubts tiptoed away enough to let me get through some days without crying. The relief, similar to when the ice finally starts to melt, was barely perceptible until I looked back and saw I hadn’t cried that particular day. I scheduled a massage for Saturday, washing myself in tender and healing touch. I mentioned my blues to my massage therapist, telling her the date that had been bothering me. Her response made little impact at the time: Do something special that day, something that rewrites that day in my memory. Fat chance, I silently figured. What could happen that could push away that darkness of that single and dreadful day? How could I escape those ruts?

The answer came hours later, after the mail had failed (again!) to bring my copy of UUWorld, the quarterly print and online publication of the Unitarian Universalist Association. By no effort of my own, I had a piece in both editions, a piece I’d written last fall — Questions of Comfort, a musing about the need for meaning in tragedy. An editor at UU World contacted me, a writer who rarely submits anything to anyone anywhere since that keeps the rejection monster from visiting too often. He asked if they could use the piece, and I, eager to be in print, elatedly agreed. While I’d seen the piece online, my copy had yet to arrive. Over the previous days, friends send messages saying theirs had arrived, one kindly sending a picture of the first page, providing the proof I needed that this was real. But I wanted my own.

Stalked mail carriers rarely deliver, however, and Saturday’s delivery was notably without my copy of the magazine. As I headed to bed after a marvelous day with my intended, it came to me that perhaps I’d found a way out of the ruts March 2nd had held for me these past six years. March 2nd fell on Sunday again this year, and friends, knowing I’d not yet held the magazine that contained proof that I was indeed a published writer, promised to bring that proof to church. Sunday, I’d see my words published in a small yet not invisible magazine that often contains pieces on the hardest parts of life as well as the seemingly small wonders it brings every day.

And so I find myself on a new road, one where March 2nd isn’t a day of recalling pain and reliving disaster and returning to thoughts of failure. March 2nd can be the day I first saw my work in print in a made-of-paper, read-by-people-who-aren’t-obligated-to-do-so magazine. It’s small, this success, but it’s a start down a road I’ve yearned to travel: The road of the published writer.

I don’t know what will happen come the end of February 2015. Habits are hard to break, and some memories are more challenging to manage than others. It’s not in the remembering that the ruts wreak their havoc, however. It’s in the emotions and thought patterns that we dig deeply, either by intention or accident, and it’s what we miss by assuming that once we fall in that we can’t find our way out. There’s nothing wrong with remembering and learning from our most painful memories, but when they steal so much of our present, they need some adjusting. They are ruts to ride over and out of, in search of more open road. Who knows where that might lead?

Grief Without a Timetable

DSCN0669“Every childhood has its trauma. This will just be theirs,” said my therapist who helped me through the separation that led to my divorce some five years back. I nodded, holding back the tears. What had transpired in the previous two to three years seemed too traumatic for me to bear in my last thirties. How were my boys, only 10 and 6 at the time — babies, for goodness sake–supposed to weather this trauma? Shouldn’t their greatest traumas at these ages be skinned knees and dropped ice cream cones?

My greatest trauma prior to the slow, agonizing end of my own marriage was my parents’ separation when I was 15. The divorce, a year later, and subsequent remarriages were brief showers of grief compared to the devastating hurricane of my 15th year that followed the (to me) shocking announcement of their separation.

Around that time, I took a religion class in my Catholic high school about death and dying, and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief were a focal point of the class. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Presented as a linear progression of grieving for the dying and bereaved, I don’t recall relating those stages to the depressive fury that filled that next year of my life. Acceptance actually came quickly after a brief period of denial I kept to myself. I was to live with my dad for the rest of high school, visiting my mom a few times a week. That wasn’t going to change, and I had not one fantasy about parents reunited and family restored. But mine wasn’t a peaceful acceptance, but rather a resigned one punctuated with an anger so deep I couldn’t speak it or even acknowledge its existence, and depression that, while not incapacitating me, sucked a light out that had burned brightly before. At once I was accepting, angry, sad, and, come each holiday and all its dilemmas, incredulous that I was in balancing act forever. Over the years, after I could touch more of the anger without retreating in pain, all of those feelings softened, but they’ve never remained entirely away. It’s grief without a timetable.

Our human condition and resulting emotions are messy and chaotic, but our human brains prefer organization. We like logical progression, moving from A to B to C over days or weeks or years. We like to categorize people and feelings and ways of being in the world. Consider Erikson’s stages of development, the DSM’s divisions of mental illness, the Enneagram and Myers Briggs personality categories, and even astrology’s assignments of traits and fates. We sort and order our belongings and ourselves, desperate for the comfort of order. So ordering grief? Why not?

Because it doesn’t work. Mark Epstein, psychiatrist and author of “The Trauma of Being Alive” (New York Times, August 3, 2013) says it well:

Mourning, however, has no timetable. Grief is not the same for everyone. And it does not always go away. The closest one can find to a consensus about it among today’s therapists is the conviction that the healthiest way to deal with trauma is to lean into it, rather than try to keep it at bay.

Dr. Epstein goes on to describe his mother’s grieving of her first husband’s death, a long process never entirely resolving. His mother goes on to marry again and live a full life, albeit with the occasional nagging doubt, “Shouldn’t I be over this by now?” His answer? Trauma never goes away completely.

While my trauma from my parents’ divorce nearly three decades ago has largely receded from my thoughts, the unwinding of my own marriage, a long and messy process, brought fresh grief that has yet to mellow to an occasional wistful sigh. Far wiser at 38 than at 15, I knew from the start I had to acknowledge those feelings that churned up without bidding and with little respect to time or place rather than deny them, as I had done as a teen.  As the separation morphed into divorce, I could usually tuck the tears of fear and anger and resentment away at least until I made it up to my room and shut the door. There, alone or with a friend on the other end of the phone line, I could let the feelings rise then ebb, like some unpredictable and cruel tide.

But grief wasn’t always that neat and manageable. Grief resists containment, corroding the container if bottled up and exploding out when the lid is just slightly loosened. But sometimes I shoved a particularly painful emotion inside, finding it ugly or just inconvenient. Sometimes it spilled out at church or in the car or while cleaning the garage or when talking to my then husband turning ex-husband or parenting my children. I know at points I have deepened their trauma by poorly managing my own grief.

After a few years, the grief surfaced less often and with far less intensity. Too many times I’ve asked myself what Dr. Epstein’s mother asked: Shouldn’t this be over by now? Recent events and revelations have again brought me back too often to a place of deep sadness and hot anger. They come so fast and hit so hard they threaten to knock me out of the tenuous equilibrium I thought I’d reached. I’m floored by their ability to render me incapable of right speech, right action, right view, or any other peaceful way of being in the world. It is, in one sense, a new trauma to add onto the pain of five years back. It is also far more manageable, since it is really just another chapter of the old trauma. I know this pain, and I know that my best response is to do as Epstein says: Lean in. It works. And the pain passes, whatever expression of emotion it has taken, at least for the time being.

The first Buddhist truth says it well: Life is suffering. That’s not too far from my therapist’s wise words about every childhood having its trauma. We will experience trauma. We will suffer. It’s inevitable. And grieving? That’s what inevitably follows trauma, or at least the traumas that aren’t our own deaths. Everything ends. That’s the promise of life, after all.

So is it depressing that grief with no timetable will follow inevitable trauma? A bit, but it’s a truth worth accepting. Perhaps that’s the acceptance we should really strive to find: Not an acceptance that ends to our disbelief, anger, sadness, and pain but rather an acceptance that these feelings may just not ever evaporate entirely and that it’s okay that our minds and hearts work that way. It’s still unsettling, and grief brought to one’s own children is a trauma all its own. It’s life, though, so I’ll lean in, wait out each round, and watch their tides and ride my own.


The Divorce Shuffle

If you’re tired of reading my post-divorce slump posts, skip this one.  I’m tired of having them, but somehow they just pop up occasionally.

I keep wondering when the sadness will leave for good.  I wonder when I will no longer wake at night from a dream about reconciliation with my ex.  Even in my dreams, that long-gone desire is dashed by the presence of his new wife’s son.  I don’t pine for my ex, can’t imagine returning to the shambles of a marriage we had those last several years, and spend most of my time feeling whole and grounded.

It’s just that divorce never ends.  The shuffling of children back and forth, the calls/emails/texts to discuss the children, all the extra work it takes to raise children in two different homes.  It never seems to end.  What was once a discussion after dinner or when the kids went to bed now requires a call between us, never at the right time for either one of us unless previously scheduled.  Decisions that take a good amount of back-and-forth either are truncated or tabled until there is more time to discuss the issue.

Don’t get me wrong.  We do quite well co-parenting in different houses.  Better than we did on the same turf.  It took us awhile to come to this point, and we still slip into unpleasantness at times, but we do pretty well.

Doing  “pretty well” does nothing to change the rather unfortunate yet real fact that we are no longer two adults parenting our children together, backing each other up and stepping in for each other when one can’t continue without coming unglued.  We’re probably doing better than we were during our last few years together, years filled with arguing, angst, and more.

So what undid me this time?  An article in the Spring, 2011, issue of Brain, Child, “Before This,” was the culprit.  Sarah Ivy elegantly wrote the crux of my struggle with divorce:  loss of family and the ever-present burdens of divorce.  The essay pivots around the birth of Ivy’s fourth child, the product of her second marriage, with the other three coming along during her previous marriage.  Although she never states it as such, it seems she was the catalyst for the divorce.  While I’m loathe to ever identify with the “leaver” in divorce, I know some situations are untenable and best left for the safety and sanity of all, and I respect the privacy she gives the circumstances of her divorce and ex-husband.  In short, she gives birth, fully expecting this child to be a full sibling to her other three, despite sharing only half their DNA.  It is her reaction to the child that’s jarring to her:  this child is clearly NOT just like her others at birth, appearing quite different.

While this different appearance may seem shallow of Ivy, her essay shows nothing of the sort.  She’d continued with life after the divorce,  determined to sally forth as previously planned, family intact (or what remained).  The birth of her fourth child broke that illusion.  The reality of the disturbance that is forever in divorced families weighs down heavily as she looks at this child who is clearly of different origins than her first three.  Life has changed forever, and the rest of the article recounts her understanding of that.  I could be crass and ask her what took so long, but that would only betray the touch bitterness that still surfaces at time as I sally forth in my completely changed world of divorced living.  Sure, the boys and I have settled in, but not to something any of us would have chosen, given the ability to actually choose.  (Okay, I wouldn’t have chosen to live the last years of my marriage as I did either.)

Not once did I hold the illusion that separation and divorce would be a blip in our lives, an event we’d experience then move on, like a speed bump taken a bit too fast on the road of life.  Never did the magnitude of dividing parents and shuffling children escape me.  I’m a child of divorce, after all.  While my being-shuffled years were minimized by my age at their divorce (16 years), my shuffling of myself has never stopped.  Holidays are parceled out, visits to different homes are scheduled, and the word “family” elicits a collage that doesn’t seem to quite all line up.  I never wanted that for my kids.  And sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I feel pretty angry and mighty sad when I think about the relative simplicity we’ve lost from our previous life as an intact family.

Despite division, despite adding family on their father’s end, despite mom dating, we all sally forth.  We’re still learning all the steps to the divorce shuffle, knowing these steps will change as time goes on.  I’ve gained some flexibility and increased my tolerance to the unknown, reaching somewhat better terms with change.  Sometime, however, I tire of the dance and its ever-changing steps, and I miss the relative simplicity of two parents, two kids, one house.  Sarah Ivy said it best: “…none of this was simple or clean, and ever would be again.”  Thanks, Ivy.

Mislabeling Photos (or What the iMac and I Have in Common)

Full disclosure:  I am a new iMac owner.  The iPad was my gateway Apple device, purchased a few months back.  I can find a dozen ways to justify this new ooh shiny on my desk (old computer on life support, less stuff on the desk and floor, simpler interface, great options for my video editing son, reliability, etc), although I’ll admit learning a new system is taking some time.  But I’m having a blast., and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a bit obsessed.

This week a friend helped me transfer (okay, he did the whole thing) my documents, music, and photos from my nearly dead PC to my new computer.  Since I had an evening without the kids, I decided to play around a bit.  It’s been hard to get a turn at this new machine, what with one child on garage band (software for creating music) and the other on photo booth (good for funny pictures and video, as far as I can figure).  I spent several hours “teaching” the computer the faces present in my photos.  For those of you who haven’t discovered Picasa, iPhoto, or the like, this program presents the faces in your photos for you to name.  Ideally, after naming some folks a few times, it “learns” to recognize them and tags them correctly.  I was fascinated with its learning process, noting what seemed to throw it off and whose faces it learned quickly.  The red-headed boy from a First LEGO League team some years back?  No problem.  After two photos of him, the computer got him every time.  Ditto with his dark-haired mother, my ex-husband,  and a friend’s daughter.  It learned my face a bit more slowly, although my hair ranges from well below my shoulders to above my ears, depending on the year, and glasses are present about half the time.  My sons gave the software fits.

Now, I have some trouble identifying my sons correctly during certain ages of their lives, like in their first year of life.  The computer, however, was far more confused.  I’m sure I identified each child at least a hundred times each for the computer, yet it kept requesting a name for each son.  Most of these requests came from pictures taken four or five years back, at which point they both had the rounder faces of the prepubescent child.  It never named them both the same name in a photo (wouldn’t that be a software faux pas), but if both were present, only one would be named, and about half the time, incorrectly.  It was a long evening.

Decay curve essential: Notice the graph never get to zero.

It was made longer by my ever-growing feeling of sadness as I passed through the seemingly endless parade of pictures of the two most precious beings in my life, smiling away as if they had not a care in the world.  Most of the shots were pre-separation.  Most were after my marriage had become a minefield.  Few contained me.  Fewer contained my ex-husband.  They all took me down a path I rarely travel these days:  a path of sorrow and regret. Regret that we could not maintain a relatively happy, intact family for these lovely children.  Sorrow at the pain they’ve been through over too many years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t the one who wanted divorce.  Despite some rather terrible emotional living conditions, I spend the last years of my marriage fighting for my family to remain, well, a family.  Even when it was clear that wasn’t what my then-husband wanted.  Even when it defied reason and logic.  But once the paper was signed, I was flooded with relief.  That was 14 months ago, and while most of the time I don’t look back, there are times I fall back onto that path of sorrow and regret. And looking at pictures from that painful time, despite the smiles on the boys’ faces, almost always brings it back.

So I let the tears fall for a bit.  Deep sobs wracked my chest for a few minutes, how many I don’t know.  I cried out a bit more grief, but my peace returned quickly.  That’s the trend.  I feel the pain well up, and I hold it back, either avoiding the stimulus bringing the pain to the surface or simply by brute emotional force.  Since avoidance doesn’t work forever, and since the grief is fighting hard to be acknowledged, eventually my defenses drop, and I allow myself to feel deeply.  Simply allowing that process to occur restores my balance and empties out a bit more of the residual pain.  I’m not sure if the pain is in a bucket that eventually empties or rather is more like the half-life of a radioactive compound, decreasing in an exponential function (teaching Precalc to my older probably makes for less palatable metaphors, but if the math fits…).  I image it more like the latter, dropping in potency by halves each year, let’s say.  I like the idea of a grief decay curve.  It appeals to my scientific mind and emotional experience.  While the bucket may never empty, the level of grief (and frequency it kicks up) keeps decreasing.

The photos are often my undoing.  I see those smiling faces and feel an incongruous pain.  I’m not certain how to remember those events.  Christmas photos from the last third of the 2000s remind me of arguments and emptiness even when looking at shots of smiling kids trying out new toys and grinning over Hanukkah candles.  The holiday itself this year was fine, but the photos from the past make me weepy.

I know I’m mislabeling.  Those smiles were the real deal.  At least the ones from the kids were.  And we had some decent times in those last years, despite my tendency to largely remember the bad.  After my tears, I returned to the photos (now properly labeled) and took another look.  The sadness threatened to break through again, but with far less strength.  The kids WERE happy in those pictures.  Unburdened by the drama unfolding (which was, at times, very present to them, I’m sorry to say), the times these shots were taken were happy times for them.

So I’m working on my labeling.  Much as iPhoto “learns” a face over my labeling it properly time after time, I can realize that the happiness of those events was real.  The divorce that would come to pass in the years following wouldn’t have the power to change that past.  I have another load of photos to move, this batch, from 2008 and 2009, far trickier times to navigate (and far fewer photos to label, since my strategy those years was to just not take pictures).  I’m sure the iMac, brilliant though it is, will continue to confuse my boys in picture after picture, but I’m counting on the process gradually becoming smoother.  And I’m counting on my labeling to improve as well.  Hey, if a computer can learn, so can I.

It’s Still Sad Sometimes

It’s still sad sometimes. Usually not, especially when I’m caught up in the current of life. Rarely in a tear-producing way. Generally when I don’t expect it, although it almost always passes quickly. It’s still sad sometimes.

Yesterday, the sadness hit as I returned to my car after a delightful Friday night intergenerational church service.  Most attendees were parents of children under age 8 or so, although I know I wasn’t the only single adult in the room.  I sat with a friend and her son while we participated in chant, meditation, song, and storytelling.  It was a captivating hour and a half that left my spirit light and my soul at peace.

And then it was time for refreshments.  I considered bugging out as soon as the service ended, avoiding mingling with all these people I didn’t know well.  All those families, looking intact and full.  But I took a deep breath and wandered down to the refreshment area.  After several minutes of relative silence except for reminders to children to wait a turn for snack, we started to converse.  The five children quickly inserted their laughter, which seemed to loosen the tongues of the adults.  We talked of what parents do when first meeting.  We talked about our kids.

Except that I didn’t have mine.  They’re generally with their dad on Friday nights.  Not always.  We’re flexible with the schedule, but since he works weekdays, I often work Saturday, and Sunday is church for the boys and I, Friday night is almost always a dad night.  I really hate explaining all that, so when the question of my children’s whereabouts arose, I simply said they were with their father.   When asked later if I’d bring them next time, I let the rest out.  I’m divorced.  I don’t have my kids on most Friday nights.  My eyes fill just typing that.

To be fair, no one ran screaming.  Admission of recent divorce is quite the kill-joy, as people mutter apologies while hoping the divorce cooties don’t rub off.  Instead, the conversation turned to jobs, kids, and then the late hour.  We went our separate ways, and I quietly headed to my car.  Alone.  And then the sadness came.

Sadness at being alone at a service filled with parents and children. Sadness at the loss of being one of two parents with kids at any event.  Sadness at the shuffling back and forth my boys do, twice each week, and will continue to do until they leave both nests.  Sadness that the promises of marriage and family don’t always get kept.  No anger.  No wishes to turn back the clock.  No remorse, blame, self-recrimination, or frustration.  Just sadness.

So I sat with it.  I wept a bit.  Not much, just what came naturally with the late hour, fatigue, and the sorrow that washed over me.  Not the racking sobs I’d wept before and during my separation and divorce, wept alone and with friends, tears full of fear, anger, and confusion.  No.  These were simply tear of sadness that welled up, flowed down a bit, and passed.

And they always pass, as does the sadness.   And they’ll return, most likely, at least on occasion.  Because loss hurts.  Even when it was the only path left.  Even when it brings better times and greater peace.   Even when love, life, and joy fill life so fully it seems impossible for that sadness to find a way in.  It’s just that it’s still sad sometimes.  And that’s okay.

Quiche and Resurrection

As we sat down for Easter dinner, my older lit the chalice as I searched the index of A Grateful Heart:  Daily Blessing for the Evening Meal from Buddha to The Beatles, one of our sources for a prayer or simply words for thought before eating.  I’d botched the main course, a quiche, under baking the crust prior to filling.  As I cut though the sodden crust, I anticipated the boys’ upcoming rejection of the meal.  I was tired despite a nap, still suffering from a nasty cold.  The pleasant Easter afternoon, already marred with a crabby (hungry) younger son and my less-than-loving response to his distress accompanied by my stuffy head left me feeling rather grumpy and sad. 

I opened the blessing book to these words by Molly Fumia, a writer on grief:

Resurrection.  The reversal of what was thought to be absolute.  The turning of midnight into dawn, hatred into love, dying into living anew.

If we look more closely into life, will find that resurrection is more than hope, it is our experience.  The return of life from death is something we understand at our innermost depths, something we feel on the surface of our tender skin.  We have come back to life, not only when we start to shake off a shroud of sorrow that has bound us, but when we begin to believe in all that is still endlessly possible.

We give thanks for all those times we have arisen from the depths or simply taken a tiny step toward something new.  May we be empowered by extraordinary second chances.  And as we enter the world anew, let us turn the tides of despair into endless waves of hope. 

I read aloud Fumia’s words as the candles glowed and my younger fidgeted.  The words blew past their young ears but seared my heart.  They’re chatter filled my ears and distracted me from my thoughts.   The top was fine, and in a rare moment of grace, the boys ate the top without a disparaging word about inedible, greasy mush of crust.  Resurrection left my mind. 

After dinner clean-up, we walked through the neighborhood, noting the forsythia and estimating the time until the magnolia down the street would blossom.  I thanked my boys for eating the squishy-crust quiche with no criticism.  They smiled at my recognition of their restraint, adding that is was pretty terrible.  Between blossoms and boys, resurrection returned to mind.  Tiny steps, both the forsythia and their kindness at dinner, but steps nonetheless

Spring as resurrection is a common metaphor, and it helped me bridge the gap those first few Easters after  I left the Christian tradition.  But resurrection as “the reversal of what was thought to be absolute” is a new twist, one fitting to my life post-divorce.  Divorce certainly marked an end:  an end to my marriage, an end to family as I knew it; and end to what seemed normal and right.  But if those difficult years prior to the signing of decree itself were midnight,  dawn surely approaches.  Christmas came so soon after that midnight, shrouding me in darkness, but three months later, dawn is indeed breaking.  And I watch the coming of the new day with hope, love, and trust.  For in the workings of the universe and in our connections with the divine in each us, there is new life.  There is resurrection.