Compass Points

There is someone residing within me who used to let go more often. Someone who fought and struggled but came out phoenix-like, to greet the sun the next morning. I know I have it in me. Things are dim from where I am but I invest because I know this. Many say the second year after losing a child is harder than the first because reality has set in. For me, this is turning out to be a painful time during which my oldest demons surface and point out what needs to be healed. I miss the days of everything looking pretty, the happy-go-lucky dance moves that turned up after working something through. I have my boxing gloves on and will not stop until I rescue my original self.

The students I work with at my job are among the most fragile and neediest in New York City. Some of them laugh and smile all the time, some cry all the time and some are full of vitriol spewed via curses and furniture thrown. Anyone among us could be there. Since losing Susanna I notice how little separation there truly is between people. I have a kinship with those who are stuck in pain and sadness and even ill-will. Though I am tired and frequently prefer the company of trees, the broken are my brothers and sisters. We are spirits here to work things through.

November. In some circles there is much discussion of gratitude. There will be dinner table revelations of what people are grateful for. This particular year I will not be able to be there. I will not be able to sit at a table and look around at faces of other families gathered and not see Susanna’s. That would not make me feel grateful at all. I will plan something outdoors with my significant other, my son and of course Susanna. She no longer needs to consume food in a physical form, and her brother is the type of kid who seldom wants to eat anything anyway. Last Thanksgiving he ate waffles and cucumbers for dinner. We will find ways to feel grateful for this earth and its fragrant colors, the vegetables matching the leaves. We will find our way outdoors and remember things, breathe things in and feel the deep love which never goes away. My gratitude lives in this feeling more than in details and matter. When it is difficult to feel grateful I try to get back to the beauty of the earth and sky. My daughter lives among the floating leaves.

Something I wrote a while back:

It is a perfect day at the end, like Garp describes to his wife after sword fighting his children on the front lawn (the film with Robin Williams. I never could read the book, after seeing the film so many times). Sunshine and Brother and I have gone to the park in glorious spring weather. Someone is slightly sick or daycare is closed or some such reason, but we are out in the sun. Sunshine, as usual, falls asleep in the stroller and drags her feet, scratching off a thin layer of the toes of her new shoes. White Mary Janes with fabric flowers attached. It is close to Easter, which means Sunshine has one year left ahead of her. One last year of freedom from knowing what will come. On the way home Brother must have dropped Chop Chop, his tiny stuffed dog. Later, when Chop Chop is discovered missing, Papi will ride his bike around the footpath in the dark over and over, looking. This is why the day is perfect: innocence. Papi, cycling in the dark, me fretting and in deep sorrow that my son must have this loss, of a favorite stuffed dog, and all four of us alive. Four, the number of wholeness and completion. Four elements, four compass points. Four people who once determined their individual direction, based on locations of the three others.

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