Why do I go into the epicenter of my hurt? What draws me to my sorrow? There was a song I wanted to play at Matt’s funeral. One afternoon, when I thought Matt was asleep, I was sitting on the floor in the living room listening to it. I was crying when Matt came walking through the room on his way to the kitchen. He steadied himself against the wall as he slowly made his way past me.
I said, “Nothing. I’m just listening to a song that makes me sad.”
He continued on to the kitchen without interruption and said, “Then don’t listen to it.”
Matt was definitely his mother’s child. Both he and Lydia had this practical side that just went on with life. No matter how difficult it got, they simply got on with it. It was a quality of theirs that mystified me and I wish was part of my make up, too.
In the early days of loss, everything hurt. There was no escape, no reprieve. I did not think I had a choice. To close off would have crushed me under the weight of the pain. To fully contract every muscle, every emotion, every “thing” would have shattered me completely.
I had to find a way to let my sorrow flow. I had to lean into my pain and give it expression or in my resistance I would have been totally overtaken and destroyed.
So, I would go to those places where I could cry. I would touch those tender places within me with the sharp edges of life that surrounded me. I would go where it hurt most to find the most healing.
It was in the dead of night where I would rage most against the night. It was there that brought me here.
After they had all died, I would sit before his elementary school just out of the reach of the floodlights and cry. I would go to the lake where Lydia and I would sit and talk for hours with and without words, and cry. I would listen to songs I sang to Bryan as I had held him against my chest, and cry.
I needed to cry. I needed a place to cry. I needed the tears to take me where I could not escape. I needed the tears to guide me deep within my pain, to find a way through my pain and to show me how to live with and beyond my pain.
There have been times I thought I had run out of tears only to find I was simply running from my tears. Sorrow will forever be the shadow of my light. I cried yesterday. Perhaps I’ll cry today.
When I experience sorrow for losses so long ago that live just beneath the surface of today, I see such feelings as an integral part of my healing. As long as I breathe I will be healing and hurting in this dance of life. Healing is finding peace with the hurt. Healing is being able to hurt and finding the expansion of my compassion and love unfold through the tears. Healing is touching those places that touched me so deeply and being able to touch them in tender gratitude.
Before Lydia and I moved away from San Francisco to Colorado after Matt was born, we went on an night of remembrance and celebration through the city. We went to the places we loved, where memories were made and memories left their trace marks on us.
Lydia and I spent our honeymoon in San Francisco. On our honeymoon we went to the Golden Gate Bridge and kissed under the piling closet to the city. The night before we left for Colorado we went back to the bridge and kissed the same kiss in a different time.
After they all died I moved back to Northern California. I had yet to spread the ashes of Matt and Bryan on the anniversary of Lydia’s death. I stayed with a friend near the city and retraced that night, retraced the many nights, and touched those places that held both my joy and sorrow. I needed to go there as much as I need to be here.
I was walking out on the bridge in deep sorrow. A police car stopped next to me in the middle of traffic. His window rolled down and he asked, “Are you okay?”
I nodded “yes.” He drove down to the other end of the bridge. I wanted to jump, but I had yet to spread our children’s ashes. I had one more task as a father. I had gone this far. I needed to go further.
But I wanted the pain to stop. So why did I go to where it would hurt the most? Because deep within my hurt is where my healing resides. I do not go there to hurt. I am drawn there to heal.
I spread our children’s ashes in the morning of the day she died. That afternoon I went south to Monterey, to the aquarium she and I went so long ago, to the place we took Matt when he was three after his brother had died, to the place where Matt and I went after spreading Lydia’s ashes on the anniversary of her death four years earlier.
I sat on the bleachers outside the aquarium on that rainy day looking for something. I wanted anything that would stop the pain that had become so overwhelming I had turned numb.
My task was over. Bryan, Lydia, and now Matt, were dead. I had gone the distance. It was there I decided to go the distance in a different way, in a different direction.
I have chosen to go as far as I can into every moment, under all conditions, touching every feeling and thought, to find the epicenter of my loss and my life. What I find when I lean into each moment is that in the epicenter there is peace, love and healing. It sometimes hurts to get there, but upon my arrival it heals me.
So when I hurt, I do not turn away. I turn inward and follow it with every ounce of me. I go there because it is where I heal. I would not be here, if I did not go there. I cry because it hurts. I cry because it heals.