I Am Fine

People ask me how I am doing. I tell them I am fine. I am. It is fine to be sad and I have been sad for a long time. I am good at it. It makes sense. How else could I feel? It seems that there has been a current of unrelenting sorrow running through me forever and now there is, by times, this cataclysmic grief. But I am not alone. I think we all accommodate that sorrow. Anyone who watches the news, or has any awareness of what life is like for so many people, and the damage we do to each other and the planet, must accommodate that sorrow. Anyone who has loved or is loved, makes themselves vulnerable to that grief. And when it feels overwhelming, we try to put one foot forward and carry on. All of us, in our own way, as best we can. 

I think with all my blessings, all the goodness given me, for me to only grieve would be a denial of family and friendship and beauty and laughter. 

Don’t turn your back on the possibility of grace. 

That is what I tell myself when I have wept myself into exhaustion and when I have forgotten, for a moment, and then I remember.

I am changed by Lincoln’s death as I was changed by his illness and my own. Kindness, for example...when I experience it, when I witness it or hear about it, moves me in ways that go so far beyond the gratitude I used to know. I am taken to a place, deeper within and more beyond, to some bigger connection, unconstrained by notions of time or place or the distance between us. Acts of kindness have become sub-atomic bombs. They re-order my universe

Ach. I am not telling this very well. I understand if eyes are rolling.

I write about Lincoln. I think he would be okay with it. He, in his own quiet, iconoclastic way, liked attention. And he never lost a moment’s sleep over other people’s judgement. If he hurt someone, then he was upset with himself; he didn’t cause hurt again. Not caring about others’ opinions gave him an enviable liberty to live his life more fully than anyone I have ever known. He rarely judged and so he was uncommonly loved. 

I am grateful I was able to spend the hours every day with him that I did, that I had the energy and capacity to love him and to tell him so, that our children and their children were so much a part of his life…to the last breath. I know it made a difference to us, and to Lincoln, but I will never be fully able to accept that where and how he lived his last years was how it had to be. I feel so limited in my ability to imagine a better ending. I know there is one. There has to be a different way to do this. If I think about it enough, if I write it down, maybe that better ending will find me. 

I hope when people read what I write they recognize the challenges of the journey but also that there are those moments of gold, that loving someone who is so changed confers, that mourning confers. I know I have said this before, that when I learned to think of love as an action word…not an abstract noun… not something you wait to experience, not something you hold others responsible for bringing it into your life, but something you DO…that changed me. It helps me now, that I am truly on my own, to remember that it is within myself, of my choosing, to live a life full of love, even though the love of my life is no longer by my side. If I forget that, feel free to remind me. Please remind me. 

It was easy to love Lincoln and sometimes it was hard and then it wasn’t. I guess that is why I can write. When our world tilted, we were in a good place, having worked out the bumps a long time ago. I miss him, that is the undercurrent of sorrow. Even though I longed for an end to his suffering, I miss him. I have this, though — I got to love him, and then I got to care for him, and now I get to grieve his loss, and it is the most right thing in the world to be doing. 

But it is not the only thing I am doing. 

Yesterday morning I hiked with friends beneath huge cedars, beside a beautiful turquoise river and clambered up steep winding paths to rapids and waterfalls… and it was tricky in places, but I stayed on my feet. In the afternoon, I had an appointment to set up an estate account at the local credit union. The young woman with whom I met was very prepared, with documents filled out and waiting for my signature. I was touched that she had searched out Lincoln’s obituary notice. She commented on his smile.

You sometimes see a picture of someone and just know that you would like them, she said.

She, too, had lost her husband. There are no rules for grief, she told me. We all do it differently. Cry when you need to. One day at a time. And then she hugged me. 

And today my nephew and his partner will take their new baby boy home from the hospital. Our Revelstoke family grows and grows. The roots go down and we are all nourished. 

There is such goodness in the world. Don’t turn your back on the possibility of grace.

There is also a challenge in trying to live fully in the moment and not go to a place of fear of what lies ahead. I do know something of what it will look like, my future. I will live as well as I can, as long as I can. I don’t expect to ever not miss Lincoln, to ever not be sad. But I expect to be fine. I am fine. That’s all. That’s how I am doing.

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