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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Long Hot Summer

I’ve been absent for too long, but my absence doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing and doing some editing. My journals overflow with thoughts and memories, and I continue to feel grounded and very much where I should be, here on The Island.
In early June, about a month before Parrish’s 46th birthday, my grief, simmering under the surface of my thoughts, bubbled up in my heart and broke it again. So, I began the long process of healing all over. The empty darkness of my loss was at times overwhelming, and I was distracted and suffered under the blanket of heat that came with summer. At times, I thought I was in hell.
Through June and July, I busied myself with the Tybee Retreat and also attended a workshop in Clayton, but my heart wasn’t in the moment. The sadness weighed me down, and I wanted nothing more than sleep until the pain was gone. We all know grief doesn’t work that way. You can’t sleep through it. It will not be ignored. It will drag you down and put it's heavy boot on your neck until you face it head on and stare it down, even temporarily. 
In the midst of my personal angst, Hurricane Matthew ran us off The Island for five days. Gretchen and I drove across the state to Pine Mountain, where Kristy has an A-Frame. The trauma of evacuation, displacement and not knowing what we would find when we returned was exhausting. Through it all, I continued to struggle with reactivated grief, the feeling of being separated from the others by it, the hole in my heart still oozing pain and distraction.
When we returned, the dreams began—all involving Parrish and my impotence to bring some modicum of hope and happiness into his life during his last two years. Instead of vanishing as though a magician had touched them with his wand, which is usually what happens, they stayed with me during the day, dragging me down. I felt deep pain and helplessness and great confusion. I flashed back to times when he suffered and I could offer no relief. Every time I thought of him, my heart pulsed with pain.
And then, on the first of October, I fell and hit my head in the bathtub, hit it hard, producing a gash on my forehead that required stitches. My scalp was, and still is, sore and tender to the touch. But after that accident, I suppose because I was forced to rest for days, I was drawn to write poems about my only child. I began to see the first glimmer of light through the fog of my depression and profound sadness. The dreams continued, but I didn’t remember details. Some of the poems are complete and there are others percolating in my brain. 
Once again, I have begun the real healing, the hard part where I have to own my grief and not spend my valuable emotional energy on hiding from it. Writing, especially writing poems, is hard work, and it's healing for me. You can’t write a good poem if you don’t tell the truth in it. Nor can you write a good poem without cutting and condensing the words to their bare bones. The strength of a poem is in it’s marrow, where the pain is. Here's a link to one of them. 
All has not been suffering, though. Gretchen is still with me, which is a joy. Honey, at 13, is still my best friend. My human friends are always here for me, and I actually put together a little cook-out for a few of them last weekend. The squirrels, overcome with glee that acorns are falling like hail, have abandoned the bird feeder and are busy making nests. I don’t think it’s my imagination that the songbirds are in better voice without harassment from them.
And my 50th Glynn Academy class reunion is in full swing. Walking into Sea Palms last night and seeing familiar faces, so long absent, come into focus all over the room gave me a further sense of being grounded here on My Island. There will me more about that later.

© 2016 cj Schlottman

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