Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Secret Lessons from Grief and Books, and the Traditions You Pass On To Your Children

Emotional spilling over.

While reading a book, I move from one scene to the next -- one sentence to the next -- and start to cry. With no hint of a reason why.

"... 'Don't worry so much, my dear," [the doctor] says reassuringly. "There's no such thing as being allergic to India.'

One night, I dream of Nana. ..."

My chest tightens and I feel warm all over. A distant observer part of me thinks, Here's your emotional PMS showing up. That's good. Let it come then.

Not really expecting that it would.
But it did.

The hotness wells up to my throat and then eyes. I feel the moisture and with even breaths I exhale through open mouth repeatedly until I can gain control.

What was wrong with me? Where did that come from? PMS might (ok, does) make me tender and sensitive, but there's always a catalyst. Where did this come from? I was just reading. About nothing emotional. A follow-up trip to a doctor and 'one night I dream of Nana.'

I look up, holding the tears in my eyelids like little bowls. I'm still pushing the heat out with my breath.

Why did those two unrelated sentences cause me grief?

The eyelashes of my right eye stick together and poke my eyeball. I blink rapid staccato and the light from the NJ windows looks like a strobe light for a few seconds. I continue blowing the emotional pain out.

I used to hold my breath when I'd cry. But then I learned that our muscles hold memories, and holding our breath while crying did something similar. It made the dense emotion of grief to stay within. Now I struggle to breathe when I cry. To let it out. For realsies.

Being taken care of.

I blink the eyelash straight and two solid fat globs of tears drain down my cheeks.
Like twins.
Separated at birth but still unknowingly doing things simultaneously, across the country.

The doctor had compassion and kindness for his patient. A tenderness.
The Nana the author dreamed of loved her. Shared a special bond with her. The author was going on a quest for her now departed Nana.

I look to my own life. Past and Present. And feel loss and emptiness. Loneliness. No one to care for me now. No grandmother figure in my life. Nor mother figure really either. As mine has geographically and , I fear, emotionally drifted from me. And the woman I associated as my other mother figure for years has done the same. Only I am to blame, if not solely, for that. For divorcing her son.

Feeling ever much the victim, I wallow, and my stomach sours and my lungs harden.

I am not blowing anymore.

I am in my lover's house.
He cares for me.
Nurtures me.
Holds me.
Aches for me.
Does anything and everything for me.

Is this why I love him?
Is that a good reason to love someone? Because they love *you*?
(No. Otherwise I'd still be married to my ex.)
But somehow N's love for me and mine for him feels different. Newer. With more promise. More possibility. More passion.

I'm distracted by the blue sky and the sticks of branches that have lost their leaves to autumn, and the Arabic French music of Souad Massi fills the apartment. I wonder if it contributed to my mini-meltdown.

N. and I spoke yesterday of tradition and heritage. Ancestry. What to pass on to your children's generation. What do I want to bring? What can I bring?

Certainly this love. This love and compassion and caring that I spontaneously cried about. This delicate reminder of the importance of life and love.

And my love of books and words.
And magic.
The seasonal changes.
The Full Moon song.
And reading in bed at night.

I can bring those things to my children.

What can you bring yours?
What reminders have you found in books lately?

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