I kept moving to be sure there was no confusion about my still being alive. I did not want to be mistaken for road kill. At first I saw them off in the distance sitting on the newly mown field next to me as I walked the path at Cedarcrest. I thought they were regular wild turkeys. Then I saw them take off. They were Turkey Vultures.
On the wing, Turkey Vultures are elegant birds. Their wingspan is almost that of an American Bald Eagle. When the sun hits them a certain way, the feathers on their wings seem translucent. They float effortlessly, wings in a V shape, circling and soaring. Once a couple of years ago, one came over me so closely that I could hear the swish of its wings. As long as a person is far enough away that he/she cannot see the ugly heads, they appear beautiful.
It was very impressive to see so many in the air at the same time. Later in the walk, a Green Heron landed on a nearly pier as I passed one of the large ponds there. The morning walk continues to be helpful. At the moment, I think I actually need it to help keep my healing on course.
Wednesday morning (today is Friday) had been a good one since the Spiritual Formation group continues to provide a rich environment for processing what has gone on or is now going on in our lives in a way that reveals God’s hand, loving and supporting us. There was a lunch with a good friend including some great conversation, very refreshing.
The afternoon included the second day of exercising. The muscles that were getting sore, were worked enough to help relieve the discomfort for the moment. Then I headed to the mall to try to get a gift for Granddaughter Ashlyn’s upcoming birthday. I ended up walking the circumference of the mall on both levels, probably adding up to almost as much distance as I do in the morning. I decided to try to add a mall walk on the hot afternoons.
I ended up at a couple of other places to get the gift. Even with all that activity, the pain of Mary Ann’s death emerged, staying with me the rest of the day. Oddly, yesterday a neighbor who lost her husband a couple of years ago, called to see how I was doing and revealed that she had had a bad day on Wednesday also. Must be something in the air.
Yesterday was some better. The walk in the morning was followed by a visit from a member and his daughter. Ed is helping with a bit a caulk repair in the bathroom. They were both fun to talk with. Later in the day a former member had asked me to to help her process something, a role that feels comfortable for me after so many years in the ministry. That also was an enjoyable time.
I went directly to the third different support group meeting this week. While there is a little overlap, they are all different groups. It is remarkable just how helpful it is to be in a setting in which there is complete understanding and the freedom to laugh or cry without hesitance. Talking so freely there makes it easier not to talk about the loss with others who will soon tire of hearing about how much it hurts.
The groups also help temper the fears that the pain is still so strong and hasn’t let go yet. It is apparent that those who have experienced a death as recently as have I are struggling at least as much as am I. Those for whom the death was a couple of years ago, still have access to the pain, but they are not disabled by it. They are able to enjoy life again. The groups provide a helpful perspective.
After spending some time with vultures this morning, I got some more organizing done at the house. I decided to buy flowers in memory of Mary Ann and for myself. I did as I had done before when getting them for her. I asked the folks at Flowers by Bill for ten dollars worth of colorful flowers. I was given a large bouquet with varied colors, from pastels to deep, dark colors to bright and cheery colors. That bouquet now adorns the dining room table.
There was another walk at the mall. After that I went home and read a very small book called Good Grief by Granger Westberg. Daughter Lisa had asked about it in a phone call. She saw it on a Hospice list of recommended books. That little book was very helpful since it nailed very many of the struggles I have been having and named them as stages in the process. They are different from the stages of grief traditionally listed. The book confirmed that feeling each stage fully is a way to get through the grief, incorporating it into the new person who is emerging. Not everyone will, of course, grieve in exactly the same way, but what he described seems to be the most common experience.
The evening ended with a very enjoyable dinner out with former parishioners. We came back to the house and talked for a while about a variety of things. I felt almost healthy again.
A couple of days ago, as I was making one of the rounds in the mall, something very obvious found its way into my awareness. While Mary Ann has died, I have not. It doesn’t seem fair that I should be alive and she is not. Fair or not, it is so. I am actually alive. I do not need to feel guilty about that or apologize for it. I am free to go on with life. Recognizing that does not make it easy, just possible.
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