Sunday night we returned from 9 days with my folks in Ithaca, NY. I had grand plans for our time there. Knowing how much fun my daughter and mother have together I figured I’d have plenty of time to write, create and make the phone calls I’d been putting off. I didn’t factor in the time difference and the child who didn’t fall asleep before 10pm, or the internet that only broadcast through half the house, or the fact that my cell phone didn’t get consistent service that far out of town. In my planning, I forgot that I would be with my parents, who I’m lucky if I see twice a year. I forgot that my brother would be there for 3 nights and I don’t know when I’ll see him again. I didn’t think about the projects my father would have lined up, knowing he had strong men to help, and that whoever wasn’t immersed in play, felling trees or emptying ancient water heaters would need to make lunch and prep dinner.
I gave myself the first weekend to relax but as the days progressed without any visible sign of me whittling away at my to-do list, the internal pressure began to build. My expectations far outweighed my ability to get ‘er done and that nasty voice of fear and lack began to snicker on my shoulder. So I got something done. I took care of myself. I surrendered to what was.
I also got a date night with my husband. I took photos as Steve and Ada recreated her ballet class on the front lawn, soaking wet. I sat and watched chickadees flit between branch and feeder, and listened to my daughter echo their call. We celebrated Ada’s 4th birthday and took her canoeing for the first time. I ate meals with my parents, I talked with my brother, I hung laundry to dry and ran to take it down in the rain.
Grief taught me to surrender – to the moment, to the feelings, to the not-knowing. It was a beautiful lesson and one that is easy to forget as I move through time and space, away from the day Ben died and toward my vision of the future. The illusion of control has re-entered into my life and along with it, the idea that there is one right way to do things, one standard to measure myself against, whether it fits me or not. I recognize this as an old mental construct, a pattern from the days when I believed myself to be undeserving and sadly lacking. I can now choose to hang on to the misery, or let it go. There will come a day when my parents are no longer alive, my daughter is grown and my days will be my own. Until that time I will continue to practice surrender, trusting that I am where I need to be, that life is good and that turning towards love is always the right choice.