Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I wish you Peace

So, as happens in life, things change. Sometimes big things. Sometimes things that you never really thought of changing, though if you'd thought about it, you'd nod and realize that is inevitable.

What I'm talking about today is Kate Inglis (sweetsalty kate of, cofounder of Glow in the Woods is stepping down as a regular contributor to Glow. She posted on Monday that she would be going, and how it feels for her. Which is summarized as 'somewhat conflicted' - it seems to be that time for her, but reaching this point hasn't necessarily brought Completion, Closure, Peace or whatever other platitude you throw out (cough, journey, cough) to neatly label the progress (cough) someone makes in the aftermath of such a monumental loss.

In some ways, knowing Kate won't be posting regularly on the topics of babyloss, grief, afterlife leave me feeling a bit bereft. A bit like I'm flailing. As I said to her - her words were an absolute lifeline when I felt I was drowning in the grief at the beginning. I printed out this post and carried it in my wallet for awhile. I so badly needed someone to tell me it was ok to grieve, to allow myself the space necessary to breathe and heal. There are others, too numerous to mention, that just left me bouncing a little, nodding enthusiastically, saying "Yes, yes. YES. Oh yes, thank you God, someone gets it and can say it in an amazingly cogent way. I'm not insane."

In most ways though, I'm glad for Kate. She's done amazing things for us by creating Glow (I cannot express enough the gratitude I feel. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Glow may have saved my sanity). And she's at a place where she needs to move on, where she can't be where I talked about being the other day, because it's not serving anyone well any longer. I know from her recent post on sweetsalty that she is not sure how to process these statements about her having moved on, and congratulations and wishes for peace. She makes a really valuable and excellent point that peace is not really an attainable end. That there is no real objective point that can be called peace, not in this real life.

Which made me think - I often wish for peace. For myself. For my family and friends. And especially for those grieving. She has made me ask what it is I mean when I say I hope for peace.

And I think what I intend to wish someone is not a happy state of tranquility and benevolent acceptance of the fates that have befallen them. Even Job was driven to questions in the end, right? It’s not a goal, or a feeling that can be achieved and maintained with equanimity. It’s not a convenient box which can checked off the grief list, it’s not a package tied prettily with a Resolution bow. I think it is a million things and different every moment and to every person.

What I intend to tell someone is really this:

I wish you a moment of calm in the midst of the storm.
I wish you a breath that fills your lungs and that you don’t choke on.
I wish you a meal where the food does not taste like ashes in your mouth.
I wish you an encounter where someone doesn’t step on your toes or inadvertently rip out your heart.
I wish you a cry with cleansing tears.
I wish you a night of dreamless sleep.
I wish you a moment to just be – a moment in which you do not have to be a wife mother daughter sister husband father son brother friend partner employee dead baby parent lost broken drowning dying in pain guilt-ridden. A moment in which you can simply be and exist apart from all of those things.
I wish you a moment of clarity.
I wish you a moment of friendship and support.
I wish you a time when you can laugh again.
I wish you a time when you can recall without overwhelmingly negative emotions.
I wish you a moment of time in which you can feel your lost one near you.
I wish you an encompassing love.
I wish you a timeout from crushing sadness and the work of grief.
I wish you a glimpse of gratitude.
I wish you good things without guilt.
I wish you more good moments than bad.
I wish you arms to hold you and a shoulder to cry on.
I wish you the rawness of grief when you need it close.
I wish you a scab, then a scar.
I wish you a stream of sunlight, and some warmth.
I wish you a moment of rest in the struggle.
I wish you an answer.
I wish you a break from the anxiety.
I wish you a moment of comfort or solace.

Most of all, I wish you the ability to be present in this moment, whatever this moment requires.

I wish all these things, in different measures in different times depending on what is most required. I often summarize that by saying I wish you peace. It’s easier. It means something different to everyone, and they hopefully can fill in their greatest need.

Perhaps what I ought to say is I wish you the fulfillment of your needs as they come. It’s not wholly attainable, but it’s my passionate desire for my fellow bereaved.

For me, I feel like I have found some peace. That peace changes by the day and exists in greater and lesser degrees. But I find it’s when I can be, when I have that moment . . . that is what I crave and what I seek and what I wish for everyone. I struggle with it. Life changes, life froths, life churns, life is calm, life is floating, life is ever present in highs and lows. I think peace is dealing with life in that moment.

Whatever brings you peace or comfort or solace or allows you to hold your grief, whatever gets you through your day and night, whatever it is you seek – I wish you to find it. Ephemeral and ethereal as it is, intangible as it may be, I wish you that peace.

And I thank Kate for helping me find it in a hundred moments and a hundred ways.


Allison (Ali) said...

Thank you for sharing that. i too have said i wish you peace to other blm's and what you said is exactly what i was trying to say, but dont know if i could put it into words like that.

Catherine W said...

Beautiful. Also feeling a bit bereft. Kate's words have always meant so much to me. My own 'necessary spaces' is 'one day at suppertime.'

Your wishes are perfect. I wish them for you. x

sweetsalty kate said...

Oh, thank you so much for this. I've had it open much of the day and just turning it over in my mind.

I've wished peace for others too, in just the same way you have. It's a catch-all for so much. You captured it. I like the word 'comfort' the most.

I've just seen it almost fetishized, though, 'peace', like some kind of place or badge. And I've seen others apply that positively-intended fetishization to themselves as an admonishment - "why can't I be more peaceful?" as though their lack of serenity adds to all that is broken for them.

I didn't mean to call for an outlaw of the sentiment... but to embrace just how much this 'peace' goes against our natures. Which helps us shrug when we're unsettled, to just focus on what might be done to achieve small things rather than just feeling terrible for feeling terrible. To not pile meaning onto that lack of settlement where there is no meaning - just our true natures.

Holy crap. I sound like Dr. Phil. Or something. Quick. Somebody give me a wedgie.

This was a beautiful, lovely post. Thank you so much.

Boy Crazy said...

followed your link from sweetsalty, and I have to tell you how moving and beautifully articulate that list is.

It reminds me of how we also say "I love you" when so often we really mean so much more. While there are times for the big phrases and thoughts, there are times -- like in this post -- that call for articulation of the specifics. Just beautiful.


velocibadgergirl said...

This is just beautiful, and it encompasses how I feel when I think about you and Gabe. All along, I've wished for peace to find you, but it's this peace you speak of, not the neat, pat, nonexistent peace of cliches. Love to you, especially now, but also always.