Flourishing with Sensory Processing Sensitivity
As Summer Falls Away
Not a week goes by where I don’t say out loud or so loudly in my soul that it must cry out from my body: “I can’t believe they’re gone.” And, even as I type those harmless words onto an innocent white document, tears form in my eyes. The ‘they’re’ are my parents: Cathy and Mike. My life existed in and around them for 48 and 50 years. Their presence served as the place that tethered me; anchored my point of reference; explained my very purpose in so many ways. Indeed, nothing was quite complete until I shared it with them.
I’m doing now what I never, ever wanted to do; grieve. I always feared what grief might do to me; feared it would damage me beyond repair; dreaded that I might never emerge to a place that I used to know…when they were here. (oh, for just an ordinary day where I could pick up the phone and hear their voices; tap into the familiar; even the dysfunctional – but, all so grounding and safe). I wish I could cite all the ‘beauty’ and ‘grace’ the last year has wrought; or the nearness I feel to God; or how great it is that I can ‘comfort others’ now. None of that is true…yet. I’ve only known days of raw sadness triggered by the most regular things: driving the route I took them home; passing the hospital where we made countless trips to the ER; a song on the radio; a smell in the air.
So another fall arrives. The one year anniversary of my mom’s passing just a month back. Summer is gone again and I’ve no choice but to walk into another fall. What I am learning – – through no intention of my own save embracing the waves of grief as they came — is that time drags you back into reality. Before you know it real time life permeates the landscape that was once riddled with landmines of loss and sadness. The landscape that was frozen with searing reminders that life has changed forever. I have tossed untethered for a full year; the first year without both of my parents.
As I reflect on a year with my constant companion — grief, I do recall some of the comfort extended by the dearest of souls. Such simple words like: “Oh, Mar;” or “I know;” or “I can’t imagine;” or “let grief move – it has to move;” and “I’m so sorry.” With those gifts I received air, space, love, a shoulder to steady myself and just a place to be – in anguished sadness… and for it to be ok. I’m sure this pain is not forever – but, I’m not so sure there is any other way out but through a valley of tears.
What does another season bring? People suggest: “oh, just get through the first year of ‘firsts’ without your loved one…” Yes. Those were tough. First Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays…or just a weekend. It’s all strange. It’s all rather appalling from a certain point of view – the reality of death and all its implications. So now, I just walk into each day more fragile; broken; often sad and unsure – living life as a grownup who has none of that bold vigor of youth. And, I’m learning to allow, accept and embrace these uncomfortable junctures and finding that even this place is ok.
Mary Beth Nickolaou, District Administrator, School City of Hammond, IN
Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
From my heart to yours, Happy Thanksgiving friends.
In this together,