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This morning the purple clouds against the orange trees filled me with awe. It was a perfect blustery fall day, tailor made for a fire – even if I didn’t need one.
As the day wore on, however, I learned of friends who were now enduring health issues – some temporary setbacks, some life-threatening. I learned of friends losing friends and almost losing friends. And the day outside my window seemed to mirror theirs, and I forgot about awe for a while. And then I learned of a friend whose life has just been forever changed by the suicide of a loved-one, and I quietly broke down.
I walked out to look at the sky and trees again, thinking of the day almost thirty year ago, when a close friend changed – forever – the lives of everyone in our group of teenaged misfits by taking his own life. Already trying to cope with mental illness that had plagued me from early childhood, our friend’s death sent me into a nearly-fatal tailspin that was only halted when a dear friend forcefully intervened. You know who you are, and I don’t think I’ve ever said, “Thank you.”
That event coupled with Olympian denial on my part led to a sustained, sometimes intentional, retreat from meaningful interaction with family and friends, and any emotions that required honest reflection. I found my highs in dangerous places and people, and crashed often. And only when I stopped to let awe in – watching a sunset or enjoying a celebration as a spectator – did I ever admit how meaningless life was becoming.
You can keep barriers up in a marriage – not for long if you want it to be successful – but you can for a while. You can’t, however, have barriers of any kind if you want to be a good mother. Giving birth completely obliterated mine, and I have never had a chance to fully reconstruct them.
Surrendering my defenses, opening up was the scariest, best thing I did. It let romance with my husband become real love that endures the worse and the poorer. It let me completely subvert my wants and needs to another human being and be happy doing it. And, today, it let me cry thinking of my friends, hoping their healing will be swift and complete. And, as I went outside again at the end of the afternoon, it let the purple sky and orange leaves still fill me with awe.