Grief is a sacred journey

Everything Leads to You

Vic’s cairn

“This
much I know.
Everything
leads to
You.”

Deborah Gregory, “In Full Flower” from A Liberated Sheep in a Post Shepherd World

***

You were in my dream last night, healthy, waving from across the room. I reached out before you disappeared. After nine years, you still appear in inner night worlds. Not with wild passion or desperate longing, but with quiet comfort. Your smile says, “Everything will be all right.”

~1966

Everything once led to you. Especially when we were young, especially when life hurt, especially in your last years.

At twenty-one, I didn’t mind. I wanted to merge with my ideal lover, my ideal man, my most perfect friend. Although, of course, you weren’t perfect. Neither was I. In time, the ideal melted and we stood face-to-face with hurt feelings or anger or disappointment. Then the real work began. We didn’t flinch. We stayed.

All along, our paths traveled side-by-side, led to the same teachers, the same music, the same children, the same spiritual values, the same books and food and bed. Sometimes we grew apart, but not too far. My path led to you when I was wounded or bursting with pride, when I wanted to share love or loss. You knew the worst and best of me.

Vic with Daisy

For four decades, we circled each other like our favorite retrievers. Looping, swooping free, and returning for reassurance and love.

In sickness, all paths led to you, just as when we first fell in love. I circled you. I cared for you. I devoted myself to helping you live as you would have done for me. I walked you to the edge, even when I couldn’t save you.

Then came the moment when you had to leave. We saw it coming. There was time to prepare, but who can plan for the vacuum within a flattened circle? Who can prepare for a forest fire that turns a world to ash?

When you were gone, I walked the trails we’d walked together, circled by our dog. Every walk, every path led to you and your forest cairn. Tears flowed in a river toward you, but I survived each hour and then each week and month. Just as I promised I would. At night, in dreams, the path still led to you.

Now, what feels like a lifetime later, despite sons and good friends, despite your nighttime visitations, I circle around my inner worlds, my words and thoughts, my solitude and silence. I circle around my Self, although you are never far. Safely nestled in my heart.

The cairn in winter

In dreams and memory, deep within my Feminine Soul, you live in my Imagination. I wonder if you’ll be waiting for me during my last faltering breath. “I’ll help you cross over . . . if I can,” you said not long before you died. “I hope I can help from the other side, the way you’ve helped me.” No matter what, I know you’ll be with me in Imagination.

Once again, everything will lead to you.

***

For eight years, I’ve taken a weekly writing class called Writing Through the Rough Spots with Ellen Schmidt. Last week, Ellen offered the spark at the beginning of this piece. The author Deborah Gregory is a beloved poet and social media friend. I highly recommend her book A Liberated Sheep in a Post Shepherd World and her blog. The first draft of this piece was my response the quote Ellen shared, although when I wrote the first draft, I didn’t quite get it was written by “my” Deborah Gregory. We’ll call it a lapse in my damaged hearing, but when I looked at my draft again, I understood and knew I had more to learn.

Just a few weeks ago, I asked Deborah to look at an article. It felt stuck, but I had an intuition that her poetic eye and Jungian perspective would see something I was missing. Her feedback helped me look at the article from a different angle. When a quote from her poem led me to write this piece, I knew sychronicity was at work. I needed to dig deeper into the idea. I share that exploration with you.

Have you had synchronistic experiences that drew you to deeper meaning? Most of us have. I’d love to hear about yours. For other posts about synchronicity, see A Love Note from Beyond or A Message from the Moon. Also take a moment to look at Deborah’s essays and poetry. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

21 Comments
  1. This is an incredible piece, Elaine. I understand, intuit, and breathe it in. I dreamed of Bill last night. I love those dreams even if I waken in tears missing him when my mind clicks into the reality that it was a dream. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thank you, Mary. I know I don’t travel this path alone. Many live in this world with a strong thread of connection to someone no longer here. I wanted to say more about the layers of meaning of the word “You” in the poem. I hinted about that at the end of the piece. (You is capitalized in Deborah Gregory’s poem.) For me, holding the dead in memory and Imagination connects me to spiritual realms where I and Thou unite, but I can’t articulate the idea. It’s spinning in my head, working itself out.

  2. A divorce is a different kind of death. Not comparing, just stating.

    • I agree, Barb, although I’ve never been through divorce. I know you aren’t comparing. I’ve been at the side of many friends as they went through divorce and navigated complicated grief. In some ways, loss of the partner with the love connection intact seems easier. (Not comparing)

  3. Dear Elaine, I’m totally blown away by the beauty, grace and power of your words! Oh my goddess, I love how you love! Wild, poetic and free, your words spiral themselves in and out of my radiant heart. I love how your mind, body, spirit and soul draws you eternally towards your beloved Vic, and always will. I love how you share and reveal yourself here, openly, honourably, willingly and how your beautiful words open the eyes of others’ hearts so that they too might experience such love … so that together we may follow the sacred thread through the labyrinth and re-discover the joyous heart connection between us all. In graceful, lyrical words you write from your heart to ours, and it shows, oh how it shows!

    This much I know my dear friend, everything leads to You. Look to your healing hands, see how they recouple, reassure and give quiet comfort to many. Follow your journey of love as the real work continues here in your fifth decade … together, forever, always. What an inspirational testimony of love, and deep joy to read. Full-bodied nourishment for the heart and soul. When you write of parting, of how the world turned to ashes, I could see the tower collapsing … as it does, as it must, and there in the ruins a path revealed itself and faithfully you followed, picking up the Divine pen. With the sincere gratitude, from my heart to yours http://theliberatedsheep.com/from-heart-to-heart/ Blessings always, Deborah.

    • Thank you, Deborah. I still don’t know how my writing teacher connected with your poetry. I have a class tonight, so I’ll find out. I imagine I mentioned your name somewhere sometime, but I don’t know when or where. I’ll let you know if there is something more mysterious than that.

      I appreciate your loving and affirming reflections as my outer life and my inner one are in a confusing flux. I felt the hint within of something more I wanted to say in response to your poem, but I couldn’t articulate it. I’ll wait as it circles in my head. (I wrote about this in response to Mary’s earlier comment.) I hope to explore how loss of the personal you opens a new connection to the Spiritual You. After all, you did end your poem with a capitalized You.

      Thank you again for inspiring me with your poetry and so much more.

      • Ah! You read me so well Elaine, yes the capitalisation was indeed deliberate. “Y” refers to the spiritual, inner I/Thou relationship which offers us all such treasure in one’s life. Hope your writing class goes well tonight, and please would you let Ellen know how pleased I was to hear that my words recently became the creative spark. Love Deborah.

        • Deborah, it turns out I had taken the quote to a writing class a while back when we were asked to bring in a sampling of things heard, said, thought, or read. Later, we mixed our word snippets together and I chose your quote (the one I’d brought) from the bowl. I truly didn’t remember that I’d included your quote in my page of things I heard, read, said, thought–which makes me wonder about my lapse in memory. So mystery solved, but it still feels mysterious to me because it’s such a strange thing to forget. In any case, I took the whole poem to my writing teacher and showed her your book. She plans to buy it. I feel a little silly. Watching my elders, I assume I’ll have to get used to being a whole lot sillier if I keep living on this earth.

          • Ah! Thanks for coming back to me Elaine with mystery solved. What a great way to spark of writing in class, and pure synchronicity (or not!) as your word snippet returned to you … hmm, truth is always stranger than fiction. Ha-Ha! Love the thought of becoming sillier as I age too! Wonderful news re book, sincerely hope Ellen enjoys.

  4. Beautifully written, Elaine. Shedding tears.

    • Thank you, Gail. I’m so glad it touched you. Our strongest connections shift in this life and in the end, we’re left with circling around our inner Self.

    • Thank you, Susan. I hope to find out more about how my writing teacher connected with The Liberated Sheep and Deborah’s poem. It’s wonderful when life presents positive mysteries and synchronicities that help us explore old worlds with new eyes. I’m grateful Vic comes in reassuring ways in dreams. I’m also aware of the many ways I’ve shifted and my inner relationship to him has shifted. I feel more fusion with the positive masculine within and more distance from the embodied man I knew for so long. Everything changes. Of that, we can be sure.

  5. Thank you Elaine for these poetically moving words, written of the circling that always comes back to you. Synchronicity is alive and well in small and large ways, sometimes quite startlingly so .. even if it takes a while for the meaning to emerge. It always feels like a windfall …

    How lovely that Vic came visiting in such a re-assuring way!

  6. This is a love letter beyond words. In such cases, you need poetry. Thanks for sharing this post Elaine, it was inspirational as always.

  7. As Always, Your Writing Moves Me, Thanks !

  8. Such a moving piece Elaine. Your powerful words from your life’s journey with Vic certainly had me in tears. In particular, “I hope I can help you from the other side,” was beautifully haunting. 🙂

    • Thank you, Debby. I didn’t plan or want to write this longing and lament, but that’s what popped out. Sometimes we just have to go with the unconscious push.

  9. This is a very touching post…. I like the way you highlight how you two remain together, againsta all odd. Things in commom is what bring us together, whether we are making reference to partners or other relationships, such as friendship-
    Those paths you traveled with your love, side-by-side… Those same tecahers and spiritual values. “Growing apart… but not too far”: I loved that!.
    Death does not admit ambiguities, that´s for sure.
    But, still despite it all, I guess part of the healing process entails being able to walk those paths again, alone but in company of the memories you have shared with him.
    Thank you so much for sharing dear Elaine. Sending love & best wishes 😉

    • Thank you, Aquileana. You’ll probably agree that any long relationship lasts against all odds. Two egos trying to share this life and, inevitably, banging into each other once in a while.

      For me, healing has been about letting grief in, experiencing it, never pushing it away when it wants to show up, and making it a part of the whole of experience. Just before my son’s wedding in 2013, the family was sad because my husband (my son’s father) wasn’t there. It was the 5th anniversary of his death, so two days before the wedding, the family, including my son’s wife’s family, shared a ritual of remembrance for the one we missed. We remembered, honored our love for him, and wept. We felt him close by. We could then celebrate fully and have a joyous wedding.

      Thank you again for your wonderful site full of mythological gems. It’s a great resource for me and anyone who loves and wants to understand more about Greek mythology.

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