It’s been some time since I have felt so undone since the passing of my late wife Kate, but today is proving to be one of those days. Sitting in a coffeehouse in West Seattle looking out at the beauty of my hometown sobbing without any way of hiding from anyone, and wanting to run from the pain gripping my chest. The knot in my throat makes it impossible to speak, and if I could, I am not sure what would escape due to the pain.
I often think of just moving to the mountains, hanging in my trailer, my old dog and gal putting up with me in my sweats and being off the grid. No Facebook, Gmail or cell coverage. Sounds good, right?
The urge to run has been stronger and louder of late due to the emails I have been receiving nonstop in response to my moment with The Moth, my night of storytelling. Each letter is filled with emotions and feelings that I really did not think would rise up when I agreed to speak that night earlier this year.
I wrote to a woman who said she was driving 60 miles an hour through L.A. crying so hard she wondered if she should be behind the wheel of a car. Another letter came from a man who moved into the neighborhood where Kate and I had lived; offering condolences, and perhaps having a coffee or wine someday.
As the letters keep coming and the stories of others pain, and the honesty these strangers are willing to share about my story effecting them, I can’t help, but want to comfort them. Being impossible to take that pain away, I have to remember that from feeling that pain we find compassion and learn very difficult lessons. I think that’s how it is done for all of us if we are awake and willing to feel with our hearts. That pain is real and it has been teaching me each day not run away. These stories are a vivid reminder to me of how much more can be done.
It struck me as odd when asked if by telling of that night, have I had time to grieve. The answer is yes, grief does not wait for you to come to it, she has a very cunning way of finding you, making you stop and deal with what needs to be worked out.
But there is more to this story…I never want to live in that moment very long, it has a place in my world, to serve to move me onto the next part of my life and what unfolds. I have promised myself not to dwell in the discomfort of being stuck, nor longing for things to be different. I have to move forward, to live with the knowledge I can do this life, and yes breathe in what it has to offer up to me.
One lady asked very passionately if she might have permission to sign her emails with “Be a light. Be a flame. Be a beacon”. I thought of how powerfully those words changed my life and how I never wanted anyone to take them as their own. I understood her request, but for me it was my gift from Kate and with that…
Be a light. Be a flame. Be a beacon.