The following entries (from beginning runner to half marathon finisher) represents a continuing journey of tremendous grief and sorrow, and of transformation - largely through the therapeutic power of running. The sorrow that has broken my heart open wide has in time allowed me to experience the beauty of being in the present moment. And of course, without the support of family and friends to guide me, I would not have made it this far.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
TAP INTO IT
More about Bill Moyers' interview with Nikki Giovanni, whose current book, Bicycles, is about love born of grief.
Moyers went on to say her poem "Choices" is his favorite. This is a poem about accepting what you can have, instead what dwelling on what you cannot have. One of the last verses in the poem is Giovanni's reflection on accepting the inevitable, "because that is why mankind alone among the animals learns to cry."
Giovanni has such beautiful, brown, expressive eyes. When she spoke about the death of her mother the pain was evident. She said people close to you can die, but when you lose your mother "there's no one that can enter that boat that you row yourself, back to that place where your deepest fears reside.
One is never so safe again as when one's mother is out there to put their arms around (you). Your mom just makes you safe. No matter what it is you go to your mom, and she says it's gonna be alright. So I had to stop myself from picking up the phone because she wasn't there. But that's who I would have wanted to talk to. I wanted to hear my mother's voice. I knew she'd make some sense out of it for me."
I thought about this today as I was out running. One of the hardest things about Kristy's death is not having a mother or a father to hold on to. They had both experienced the death of a loved one, they would know what to say. But my father died about 5 years ago, and my mother has been ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.
One day when my mother seemed coherent I told her about Kristy. The need to tell her was overwhelming. Not unlike a confession, it was hard to put into words. And like a confession, I felt an immediate release. I held my mother's hands and said to her, "Mom, I have to tell you about Kristy. Kristy's dead - she was run over by a car when she was on her bicycle and she died."
My mom looked at me in a foggy kind of sadness. The fog brought on by the disease which has rendered her powerless to conduct even basic functions of life. She spoke slowly and said to me in a whisper, "The mother outlives the daughter," and turned her head as if looking at some distant object. I burst into tears as my heart was aching for the comfort I knew could never come. This confession gained no release. It was an empty well. When I saw my mother a few days later, she did not remember our conversation. It was like it had never happened and I could not bear to tell her again.
Toward the end of the interview, Giovanni offered this: "Science teaches us, matter is neither created nor destroyed. If that's the case then what was, is. So we lose the body but we keep the spirit. There is an energy and we have to keep finding ways to tap into it." Speaking for myself, this is the one hope I still cling to. The one thing of which I cannot let go. For without it, I am truly alone.
I think writing about how I feel helps me to get through the worst days, and gives me a glimpse of peace on my best days. On the subject of tapping into positive energy, Giovanni says, "I allow myself to do so by writing, by listening and by admitting that I'm sad. I don't always mask a lot of my feelings. There's times you just have to admit - I'm really sad. I just wish I had my mother.."
I, too, wish I had my mother to go to with this heavy burden. I cannot ask her to share it with me, or to try and make sense of it. But what I can do, is feel safe in the knowledge that she loved me and protected me for as long as she was able. And in the end, as a mother, isn't this all we really can do?
Today's run: 7 glorious miles at the lake!