My original title for this blog, which has been swirling around in my head for months, was Look Forward. But like so many times over the past many months when I have failed to write – the push and pull of what I want to say, what I feel, leaves me confused. So I don’t write.
But let’s pretend for a moment that I am not confused. Come with me as I start the Look Forward version and maybe you will see, and I will better understand, why Left Behind is also true.
Looking forward has kept me from being locked in the story of my grief and the loss of Rachid. Optimism, belief in the value of staying engaged, hope, wanting to live well, wanting to learn, all of these feelings pushed me to a new job, helped me support my kids step into their own futures, inspired my poetry and blog, allowed me to fall in love again, to hope for a diagnosis for the pain in my jaw…. etc., etc. Believing in your future and being willing to take risks is how you have to be through all of life! After losing Rachid, looking forward, reaching out into the world, saved me.
So far, not confusing – right? Seems pretty straightforward – connect with others, take care of yourself, be open to new experiences – healthy and healing – totally true! Without a doubt the best way I can honor Rachid and honor myself is to be part of the living: learn, work, love, enjoy, connect. Remember the reason I started this site 4 plus years ago was because I couldn’t find stories about widows after the first year. (Will I be okay I wanted to know). I couldn’t find many, so I had to write my own. If you are new to grief and looking for a trail marker like I was, I can say for sure, keep moving, writing, running, working, laughing, cooking, parenting, reading – whatever – keep going – you are going to be okay.
But now comes the confusing part. Or maybe just to me. But here goes. You have to leave things behind or figure out how to carry them with you in order to keep moving forward. It is inevitable that during life you will move away from schools, jobs, friends, homes, even memories. I am remarried (old news). I just left my job and I just moved to a new home (new news). In the process there were goodbyes and things I literally had to pack away. What do you bring with you? What do you leave behind? I had to make choices.
But something has been impossible to leave behind – try as I might.
The truth about the title Left Behind is what I really want to say is Don’t Leave Me Behind. The fear of loss and the impact that has made on how I think cannot be erased, packed, waved off, or driven away from. Not yet anyway. The beauty of the fear is that it motivates me to love better (a work in progress). The sad part is that a sense of safety was taken when I buried Rachid. I was left behind and I lost a part of myself.
Yesterday while I was waiting for someone to return home I heard sirens from the highway and I was instantly seized with fear and then anger (read more fear). Hours later I remembered that 6 years ago to the day I was in an ambulance with Rachid. I wasn’t thinking of that yesterday but those things are always there – I guess. The flip side of adding to your life is that you have more to lose.
It’s confusing when the looking forward way of living sets me up to get triggered by the past. I am instantly thrown. If I stayed in the past- well then I would just be there. I am learning how to catch it when it happens. The challenge is how to understand these reactions in the current context without blaming myself for the fear reaction. Oh but grief is sneaky!
As I continue to move with life (and I will!), appreciate the moment, look to future, I am sure I will Wonder what to keep with me, what to let go of, and how to not feel left behind.
How is it for you?