Friday, March 17, 2017

sweet sedona, save me.

Before writing I want to first say 'thank you' to each one of you who reached out to me regarding my last post.  Putting my own health journey out into the world felt very vulnerable.  There is something very unique about using the skills I gained while advocating for Mabel (and my other children) and putting that same knowledge to use when finding answers for myself.  It has been an exhausting challenge but knowing that my blood-work is in the fine hands of Dr. S has certainly put my mind at ease, at least for now.  There is literally nothing more to do except to wait.  And I have been here before; I remember it all too well.  I remember that there is growth and change that occurs here, too.
I'm going to try my best to embrace this season.
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Chris and I just returned from our second trip to Sedona, Arizona.
Our first trip was last February.  It was unseasonably warm in Sedona during that trip and we had a remarkable time.  It was just a couple of weeks before my foot surgery and I specifically remember saying that I was going to give it my all before going into the healing phase of that journey.  Little did I know that my foot wouldn't heal correctly or ever feel quite the same again.

Last year we were in Sedona during the 9 month anniversary of Mabel going to Heaven.  We chose this place because while researching it, we poured over dozens of reviews and listened to many suggestions; all which led us to 'the place of healing,' a magical world where energetic vortex's were not just fairy tales but were actually responsible for changing people's hearts and lives.
And there was absolutely no doubt about it...we left Sedona last year VERY changed.

Looking back, last year's trip was more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed it would be but I realize now that it was also still a very 'foggy' time for me in terms of grief.  This year, (this winter, more specifically), has been like walking out of one horrifying tunnel of pain and straight into another.  The thick coat of durable coping skills that once covered me like a film were slowly removed layer by layer in these cold, awful months, peeling back pieces of my heart that have never been exposed- not even to my own self.  

  I'm not sure how to describe it, only to say that some seriously heavy grieving took place.  And I believe that was true for each of us in our own ways.  Our home and our hearts shifted big when the autumn leaves fell and the cold settled in.  I could almost feel it in my bones, just like the physical sickness that was also changing me.  

The two weren't the same.  One may have certainly contributed to the other--grief to the sickness, and sickness to the grief, but the physical changes that took place quickly this winter were very much part of something separate.  If all else fails, I know that for sure. 
I stopped writing this winter because honestly, what more is there to say than I have already said a million times? 
 My baby died.  It was horrific.  She lived too!  But the suffering she endured?  That was almost more horrific.  I miss her and that is horrific.  Sometimes I can feel her right here with me, right on me and inside of me and that is horrific.  Sometimes I can't remember the way she sounds or her distinct features or what it was like to have her here with us at all and that is horrific.  I am in deep pain every day trying to cope and live and grieve and love and that is all very horrific.  It feels like the whole wide world has watched and listened and not a single person can possibly comprehend the words that I am saying anyway and...
you guessed it:  that is horrific.  

So I stopped writing because it feels too big and too lonely and too horrifying.  It feels like old news and an old life and old sadness and so much about me that everyone must surely want to stop focusing on it.  Surely they must want me to get better or to be better by now or to just simply be who I once was.  But I'm not.  I'm so irrecoverably changed that I will never ever be able to think or look or act the same ever again.  Grieving yourself while grieving your child is an incredible challenge; one far too enormous to try and explain.  
 ---
The enormity of it all spreads perfectly across an Arizona skyline.  
It is the only thing in the entire world that I have encountered that even comes considerably close to the awesomeness of my pain.
And the majesty of our great God who carries me in it.

I also stopped writing this winter to process several things more privately. 
My sister is having a baby and honestly, I just needed time to let that settle where it may.  It's complex and I can't yet articulate it.  I'm not sure that I will ever be able to in just the right ways, though I sure hope to be able to one day because this new little life is part of the bigger story of our entirety.  He (yes, it's a boy!) is bringing about parts of my own healing that were necessary.  But some of that heart work is wicked.  It's harder than one can express, (even though one did try...in therapy...a couple of times.)  

Grief and love and pain and redemption and salvation-they're all so similar, I'm learning. 
 They are all so relative, and they can certainly coexist but they are absolutely not mutually exclusive.  This makes up a complexity that once again, isolates individuals from others because it all feels SO personal.  SO intimate.  SO lonely, at times.  

Writing about any part of my grief during a time when my sister has every right to feel elated seemed (to me) very unfair of me. It seemed selfish to keep writing all the same things that I have written so many times before.  I thought that I could reign it in and really try to let her have this time in life to experience the joy that she has waited for and deserves without it being sprinkled with my same gritty, grainy sadness.  

I have since come to realize that Jeni never asked me to do that.  She never asked me to not write or  talk about how I'm feeling.  I thought that I was being mindful and considerate of her, but in doing so I totally took that on without her even knowing it.  
And I know now that that was an unfair thing to do to myself.  
Expressing my feelings about Mabel's life and death is critical because she is mine.  And though there is a new little love entering the world that will bring us such new and exciting joy- he also doesn't, can't and won't take away the deep sorrow or pain.  [and buddy, one day when you're reading this, I hope you know that I would never expect that of you.  You will exceed ALL of my expectations just by being alive!  Just by being you!]
So among many new health challenges and a few not-so-new emotional challenges, I found myself exhausted in every way and in need of refreshing.  My sweet husband (gah, that never gets old) planned our entire first trip and also this, our second 'honeymoon' trip to our most favorite place.  

Sedona does save me. 
So there are many theories about the actual town of Sedona and all of it's healing powers.  If you haven't, do some research!  What I can say from personal experience is that each time we have gone away and come back home, we have felt renewed.  There are specific places in the actual valley and on top of actual peaks where the air itself very much feels different.  There are several known and named 'vortex's' in Sedona but our tour guide on this trip explained that she grew up in Sedona and in her mind, everyone should find their own place that brings peace.  

Chris and I have at least one place, on the very top of Cathedral rock, where we felt a shift in our spirits together.  The wind blows differently, the air itself smells differently.  This trip, in order to get to that very place, we hiked close to 8 miles.  Reaching our destination was worth it for so many reasons.

The sunshine in Sedona is unfiltered.  The sky is breathtakingly clear every day.  The sunset casts an orange glow on all of the beautiful rocks-so much so that you never want to look away.  People are happy; genuinely happy to just be alive.  The simple pleasures in Sedona are waking up, breathing air, and using your body to do any and everything you want it to or that it can.  

I was SO proud of my body on this trip, though it is wrecked now for sure.  I pushed myself because I knew that after these few days away,  I could come home and totally rest.  It's important for me to note that for the first time since Mabel died, I do not have an obligation of any type (as far as a job is concerned.)  My sole focus is on being well, no matter how that looks or what it means-for myself, for my husband and for these kids.  
 I am so grateful to have a partner who wants that for me too, and who takes really good care of me so that it's possible for me to simply 'be.'  A gift I've never been given but have always needed, indeed. 

On this, our special trip, we hiked long, far, high, and wide.  
We ate really incredible food (and too much of it.)
We laughed more on this trip than we have in such a long time.
We really looked at each other and we smiled a lot.
This year, I realized, we no longer keep track of how many months it has been since Mabel died.  That made me both really sad and really proud of us; and I'm not exactly sure why.
(I think because we are really good at living in the moment...but somehow that brings such guilt too.  Complex, I know.)
We made it a point to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and I was so overwhelmed by all of it's beauty.  The incense was a familiar and comforting smell that brought me directly back to the church of my childhood.  It made instantly believe that all memories of 'church' should smell just like that.

I cried for the beauty in that single moment, sitting on the pew beside him, and being so very present.  
I cried for so many of the choices I made throughout my life that took me away from my childhood religion.
I cried for so many of them that led me right back to the peace that it somehow still brings, knowing it is forever mine; no matter where I wander, what I explore, or where I end up.  What a precious gift given to me by my parents, and by theirs.  
I cried because the wonder of this life is indescribable.  
I cried because...our baby.  How I miss her.  For me, for them, for him.  

And then we left and we hiked and hiked and hiked and I let my body work and sweat despite the pain, even knowing that it could be a really terrible choice in the days to come.
---
One of my most favorite things that we did on this trip was hike up Soldier's Pass and into a canyon that overlooked the entire valley.  The cold walls of the cave felt familiar in a strange way.  It was refreshing and energizing and powerful. 
All over Sedona it is common to see piles of stacked rocks.  Some say they are to help mark the trails.  Some say they are to mark vortex's.  Others say that each rock or even each stack is in it's own right, a prayer offering.  In the cave, I stacked my very first and only, simply thanking God.
For this moment.  This day.  This trip.  This body. This remarkable life. 




There is so much to say about Sedona itself.  There are so many beautiful and vivid details about our trip that I hoped to share.  But so much of it is sacred too, and can't be explained.  

What I can say is that it was necessary and perfect.
It changed my heart once again.
I came home more in love, a little more clear; even more open; a lot more free.  

If Sedona were a human she would be my soul mate.  
 I will wait every day with bated breath to meet her face to face again. 

2 comments:

Christan Smith said...

I love reading your blog. You write so beautifully, it makes me feel everything that you feel. I am so sorry for the pain that you feel.we lost our first son when he was 17months old, he went through so much in his short life . The words that you said hit so close to home... Thanks for sharing your story, it helps to know that I am not the only mother in the world that feels this horrific pain.

Christan Smith said...

I love reading your blog. You write so beautifully, it makes me feel everything that you feel. I am so sorry for the pain that you feel.we lost our first son when he was 17months old, he went through so much in his short life . The words that you said hit so close to home... Thanks for sharing your story, it helps to know that I am not the only mother in the world that feels this horrific pain.