Today writing is a chore. Like washing dishes or dusting. I like the results. I need the results. It’s the doing that often becomes so hard — the discipline of doing something I know is good even though it’s so hard to muster the motivation.
Writing is the least of so many things like that for me right now. The slow efforts of remembering. And forgetting. Of moving. Of routine. I’m starting to pick up my habits again, the daily routines that make for normal. My normal, at least. I’m trying to draw and write and cook and read and work, though these things sometimes feel like chores. We’re returning to bedtime routines and extracurricular schedules, movie nights and afternoons of yard work. We’re doing Fall things — celebrations the children are each clamoring for in this season. They are experiences that would never feel like chores except in these lingering moments when I’m so intimidated by them. And so awed by the living of them.
It’s been two and a half weeks since my husband Mike died. It seems like so much longer. And so much shorter all at the same time. In my mind, each day seems to have stretched and stretched. Each hour, even. And yet, at any given moment, I can tap into that continuous play in my head of the last morning I saw him. The color of the shirt was he wearing. What was it? What he said. The pained look on his face. I know it was there. How I heard myself respond. The mundane facts I shared. The children’s comments I added. The hard choices I was making. The important things I’m so thankful I spoke. The ones I withheld. Reconciling his last words to me. What was different that morning. What was the same. Him closing the door. And what in the world he did after that? All the things that will live only in my ridiculous imagination, too raw to really be spoken.
Even as I’m sitting with the sun warming my back, I can’t shake the chill of his choices that Thursday. His steps, whatever they were, creep along through my mind. Even as I take my own best wisdom — gleaned from God and so many friends and my own experiences — to focus on what I know. To recognize what can’t be known. To resist the simple indictment: This caused that. Or, that would have helped him do this. I see the wisdom. I can even embrace it, but I know. The continual replay is there. Ready to invade my thinking at the least provocation.
To say he is free from his struggle now is such an angry and inadequate but glittering truth.
This Bible verse keeps running through my head. I think I’ve written about it before…
“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
A heart of wisdom — an understanding that seems so elusive when I am tracing and stretching and rushing to these moments in my mind. All the decisions made and yet to face. When to stay. When to leave. When to speak. When to silence. When to seek. When to hide. When to press. When to release. When to cry. When to laugh. When it’s OK to laugh. When to dream and hope. And remember. And remind. And live. Again.
Sometimes the struggle comes in trying to pull even one clear note from the sheer cacophony of emotions and thoughts zooming through my head in this numbering of hours — this marking of moments and words and movements and feelings. Still I want to mark them. To write them and remember them and forget them. To experience them in whatever depth they emerge without hiding. All these moments spinning through my mind. I step over them. And around them. And sometimes I plow through them to unearth the truer picture. And I know I will march across them — whatever minefield laid out — until I find that path of broader wisdom. Of putting these moments in their context. Of starting again.
Habit by habit and moment by moment, I’m starting again. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. A little each day. I’m starting.
I haven’t picked up my sketch journal in a month. The least of many ways I’m starting again.