Subj: Re: A transatlantic hug!
Writing this e-mail feels a little strange, mainly because it’s not what I was expecting to say to you at all.
I had intended to relay the curious tale of how a straight white Scottish girl (me!) found herself perusing the web-page of an intelligent, funny, erudite and thought provoking gay guy from America. But now, having read the sad news of the loss of your beloved grandfather, I think that it should remain a story for another day. For now, I just wanted to say how very sorry I am for your loss. I know that nothing much can help at the moment. So often people talk about how to cope with this kind of situation. I have found that you don’t so much cope as simply endure. But endurance requires courage, tenacity, strength of character, foresight, insight and an unshakable belief that it will, in the end, be worth it. That life will get better again.
From the very little I know of you through your own writings and through the testimony of others who have written to you and about you, I have no doubt that you have these personal qualities and attributes in abundance, and I suspect many other virtues which I, as yet, know nothing of. And this reassures me that through your own efforts, and with the help and support of your family and friends, you will make it through this difficult time, and, as it would seem you have done during other times in your life, you will find something positive and life affirming within the sadness.
Keeping you in my thoughts,
I don’t know if you have heard of/read someone named Kahlil Gibran (especially his book The Prophet – not at all religious I promise, just incredibly spiritual and affecting). Anyway, he wrote this, and somehow I thought it spoke directly to your situation. Hope it helps even a little.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
– Kahlil Gibran
Helen, Helen, HELEN! I don’t know what I did to deserve an email like that, but I am crying. And in a very good way. That couldn’t be any more eloquent, generous, or beautiful. I had fallen from my 7-week spiritual high, what with Grampa’s passing and some of the dysfunction I’d seen within my family last week. I’d sunk into funk these last 10 days. I hadn’t been sleeping or eating (which makes me confrontational), and it was all compounding into depression. I know me, and I can’t let that happen.
This morning, I was laying in bed focusing on how GOOD my life is, how WONDERFUL it is. (I have more to be grateful for than almost anyone I know!) I went through my Wellness Affirmations from this past Thanksgiving, really absorbing them again, trying to haul myself back into being whole by re-examining my Perfect Meditation from a couple weeks ago. I needed to re-achieve “wellness” and “whole,” so that the rest of the meditation would follow. But I kept stopping at the last part: I am happy.
I stumbled on it repeatedly. It felt disrespectful to say or feel it; however, I know that Grampa wouldn’t want me to be unhappy. He would never want that – he would want me to be invigorated by his memory, not miserable in his loss. I walked over to pick up a well-timed delivery of chocolate from a friend in Boston, and as I crunched toward the leasing office I got through saying “I am happy” several times. It was as if the ice veneer snapping under my feet had cracked open specifically to erupt with the fluffy white powder underneath (just for my entertainment!). It was like tiptoeing on crème brûlée, and how can THAT not be fabulous? I don’t understand the minutiae making it true, but saying “I am happy” within explodes “I am happy” without.
I am happy! (*step; crunch; puff of snow; smile…)
And then I get this email… just in the nick of time. Just as that initial excitement was calming back down. Being neutral is balanced, but I was falling down past neutral. I want to post this on my blog, because I want people to see specifically how reaching out and doing something kind (even to strangers!) creates a fracturing effect: Love breaks sadness. It is real. I am so happy you wrote to me, and I didn’t even know you existed until now. What if all introductions could be like this?? What hardness could be broken, so that softness could erupt?
This is amazing: Even before you shared the Gibran quote, that cracking shell imagery was already at work in my head today while walking outside in the snow. There are no coincidences. Thanks again for taking the time to write me something so helpful and inspiring. I also want to thank everyone else who, whether publicly or privately, has sent me encouragement and sympathy. Please know that it matters. It really does, and I am grateful to be the recipient of your good will.
I hope you are well,