Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Grief: Taking My Grief On A Cruise
I am docked in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey with my daughter and granddaughter. I survived being on a plane on the fourth anniversary of my husband's death. The folks around me survived too. I am a little less irritable but still not an easy traveling companion. Since I am alone, it is difficult not to be alone. I find I need times to retreat and just be instead of do.
On Corfu, a Greek island, I learned that widows still wear black for the rest of their lives. I like being able to choose what I want to wear, but part of me wishes we hadn't abandoned that tradition. At least when you are wearing mourning clothes it tells people something about you. I wear all kinds of color and I have to say "My husband's dead." or no one will know. Why do I want everyone to know? I haven't figured that out yet. I could talk about other things but usually within 10 minutes of a conversation I have mentioned Artie and then added that he died. There are a lot of important things I could share about myself. Why does my husband's life and death always seem the most important?
In Santorini, another Greek island, I bought a ring with small black and clear diamonds. It seemed symbolic. With the black for death and the white for life - although in some cultures people wear white for mourning - and sparkle for love; I thought I could replace my wedding ring I wear along with Artie's. I did that for about 8 hours. I still feel married. I still feel more comfortable with the rings on.
In Dubrovnik, Croatia there were pictures of the partisans who died in the recent war. Faces of beautiful young men. I looked closely at each of their faces. I wanted to look into the eyes in the photographs and think of those who love them. When Artie was alive I wouldn't have thought of doing that. There is in my mind a magical kind of balance...if I will make an effort to remember others perhaps others will remember Artie. We must remember that each individual life mean something. Our loved ones must not disappear in to a teeming sea of dead people. Artie matters. Whoever you are thinking about right now (animals included) because you are reading this matters.
There have been many fun times. My granddaughter Gwendy saw her first dolphins today. She charms people wherever she goes. We have seen some exquisitely beautiful scenery. The deep blue of first the Ionian Sea and then the Aegean. It is difficult to let all the beauty in. My eyes see it but there is a place that feeling to deeply can still hurt. There is a place that still wants to shut my eyes because there is no one at home waiting for me that I can call and tell my stories too.
With or without me the stories continue to be told. I hear so many stories and learn so much about people as I travel around. I don't think you can understand a country by reading about it. I think you have to be there and hear the stories and taste the food and smell the air.
Always...how to live in the present moment. How to know that Artie finds me wherever I am. When he was alive I travelled around on my own sometimes. Every morning and every evening I talked to him. When I got home I told him stories as he was going to sleep.
His story continues because of the people who talk about him and in whose heart he still lives. Perhaps his story continues somewhere (as I believe it does) that I cannot travel to yet. I don't have a passport for that place. It is he who must come to me in my dreams and in my awake.
My story must continue as well because if I am alive I must be alive. How we all travel together on this blue and green planet. How people grief and laugh and love and not love in every country.
Together...we can do it. At home or away...what will our story be today? Tomorrow is Athens. Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Byzantium and more. For centuries there are those who have died and know the secret of what comes next and those of us who wait to join them trying to make each day have within its hours at least one special moment. Here is to you finding your special moments - and having the finding of them get easier with each passing day. xo