Being able to find the calm quiet eye of the storm in times of trouble has been a talent of mine since childhood.
Thursday was the third anniversary of my husband’s death. I know from experience that these things do get easier, however, the third is possibly the hardest because by then you know that you must let go, but you do not want to.
I met my girls at 6 p.m. on the first tee box of the golf course that we have all played on. Another scene of some of our happiest family memories. There were kids splashing in the pool and a couple teeing off. It was a warm summer evening and the sunlight filtered through the canopies of the large oak trees casting shadows on the gentle slopes of emerald green grass.
I slipped in next to my older daughter and she pulled onto the cart path behind her sister. It was odd to me to not be driving. In fact the kids had planned this, so they were driving in every way.
We pulled up to the fifth hole where my husband had made a hole in one. We parked side by side and sat together in silence. It was not better than last year, but not as bad as the year before that. A yellow and white cat approached us, he rolled over and scratched his back on the rough concrete, then skittered away. I pulled out drinks and bread and cheese. My younger daughter asked why I brought so much food when we were going to dinner, then asked why I didn’t bring more food when it was gone. This was the theme of the evening. Grief. Everything is wrong and nothing is wrong.
The past three years have been a practice in maintaining my equilibrium. I’ve become an expert in finding the perfect peaceful center of the hurricane. My mother was from an Irish family and this was not how it was done. Raising the roof was what it was called in her family of origin. My father was a war hero and he approached his complications with stony silence. How to unite these two threads has been a lifelong challenge.
Recently, I’ve been reading how the five people you spend the most time with define you. Spending most of my time with people under the age of twenty has given me a sweet youthfulness, but I am also their teacher at work and at home. At work I am teaching language arts, and at home I am teaching emotional maturity. I’m teaching my daughters how to stay focused no matter what is happening around them.
The next morning I drive my older daughter to the BART station to take the train into San Francisco. She hugs me with tears in her eyes, then pulls away, and closes the door.
As I watch her disappear into the cavernous station I think this is what courage looks like. This is exactly what it looks like.
Love and blessings to all.