2018 feels like three years in one. I cannot believe that eleven months ago my grandpa died. It feels like yesterday that my feet burned inside the funeral car after standing at the snow-covered graveside with no trees to block the arctic prairie winds that blew.
Grandpa's death was a devastation, but I was prepared for it. Another loss blindsided me weeks after I lost Grandpa. I haven't acknowledged that loss in this space because it has taken many months to wrap my brain around it. I haven't had words to make sense of it, and plus I was hurt. Hurting, double time.
Also, had I written about it then, I would have been really melodramatic, and I had no use for melodrama. Being still and letting the grief wash over me and do its work was the best way to cope. My, have I learned how to grieve well in recent years.
Tonight as I listened to an episode of the podcast, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd, I heard this post begin to write itself. Dax was interviewing Zach Braff. They are both actors, directors, and writers, and they were comparing notes about the writing process and how hard it is, how much discipline it requires, and what works for them in accomplishing a writing session or a finished draft.
Hearing these two creatives talk about their craft reminded me of the conversations I used to have with this particular person.
On and off for the past eleven months I've had imaginary conversations with both my grandpa and my friend. The conversations with Grandpa always come so naturally. I imagine him hearing me and responding, and so my imagination and broken heart have been soothed.
The conversations with the friend are laced with a mixture of other things: a little sass, a little resentment, a little pout, and not a little bit of fire, feistiness, bravada (my feminine version for bravado).
Dax and Zach's conversation made me think of all the things I've wanted to tell this friend over the months. For instance:
- How different my approach to writing has become. I write because I am compelled to. If readers read, that's great, but I no longer count or depend on “likes” the way I used to. I enjoyed writing this October's series so much. I felt deeply about the story I had to tell, and was undaunted by the fact that my blog stats showed it wasn't read by as many people as the previous years' series. It was an important story for me to tell, and so I told it.
- I don't write every day, but when I write, it is life-affirming, and I always find something new to say.
- My yoga training has been a fiery experience. To get the most out of it, it required me to question a new layer of questions about myself, my fears, dreams, and expectations. I have asked those questions, listened for the answers, and done so with gentle self-care when the answers that surfaced were hard to bear or to wrestle with.
- The training scared me, which was one of the reasons I registered for it. I have come to learn that the things that scare me are the best experiences for me, and that I cannot shy away from them.
- I observe my moods, thoughts, and sensations in my body before I react to them with more precision and capability than in the past. This practice has changed life for the better.
- I feel so different than I did three years ago when this new approach to life seized me.
- I genuinely enjoyed watching my daughter play soccer—a new sport for both of us.
- I have a new book idea. The one my friend told me I would write. I was surprised by the declaration that this friend made, but I trusted it, tucked it away for later. In what feels like divine timing, the book idea is finally catching up to me, and I feel really excited about diving into it in 2019. I've known for a long time that I was still living the story, so I had to wait for the story to find me. It has, and I feel certain that the three years of writing has prepared me for this specific project.
- Armchair Expert podcast is excellent, and I highly recommend it.
There are other things I would tell this friend, and I know they would evoke an 'atta girl' and maybe even a few 'proud of yous.' I don't need to hear them to feel them. This friend's fingerprint is on all of these things, and yet as time passes, the ink fades. That fact would have upset me a lot when I experienced the abrupt change in friendship status, but today, I am at peace with it. The shape shifting our friendship underwent doesn't negate any of the goodness or transformation I experienced. My gratitude for what our friendship gave me keeps the other feelings in check, and for that I feel relieved and capable of moving forward and thriving.
Learning how to lean into the discomfort and to actively grieve the inevitable losses that blow in and out of my life makes it possible to accept this unexpected one. It turns out I don't have to fully understand something to come to terms with it. I am so much better at living adjacent to life's mysteries and the unknown.