Your River

May 31st. The end of the month. I’ve made it this far; not all well, not all good moments and ones that I’m proud of, but I’m here. Closer to where I want to be.

Your river.

This isn’t it. Not yet. But it is Ervine Creek. My feet in its waters. Tentative. We came here 2017. Brought your canoe down the long stone rough steps. Some peace in remembering.

I feel closer to God, closer to you, closer to myself. I want to walk in the waters until they take all my tears. I want to lower my body into the waves, more than my feet. All of me. Hear the ripples caress me. But it’s too close to last year when I’d follow you down. I’ll get there. Determined. I’ll get there. I will.

Grief has it’s burdens and living is one. I doubted my strength, that I’d see my way through. Every day has been a decision. I balance and weigh. Choosing to walk places of memory. It hurts. I won’t deny it.

I can smell the little white flowers I passed on the path. Bushes or shrubs. I never remember the name. I stopped to take it in. A second and third breath.

Cardinals sang and flew a bit closer before flying away. A seagull took one long pass down the river and another back up. A morning not wasted doing nothing but listening to the heart of the river, the creatures and myself.

At the top of the steps I met a woman and dog. We spoke for a moment of the reasons I came. Faith and belief. She’s Anglican. Smiled when I told her I talk to the light. It’s him she is certain. I thanked her for that. If I understood Morse code would I know what he said? Is it better not knowing?

How often I leave my thoughts to dangle. Mellow in the sun. June was a month of hurdles. Still thinking on those.

Home sick, a whole week. This is new.

July 15, 2022

Gratitude

I came away with questions for myself. Looking back from this week at ways I’d interact. Look slowly and kindly. Allow I had my faults. Not the ones screamed at me, but choices, habits, fears sit close upon memory and I want to look at them. Mainly because I’m writing. Memoir. Pieces of myself, my story. They are part of it, the story.

Sometimes I think my main goal must be to see how many unused drafts I can stare at in my Drafts folder; fifteen so far. The small paragraph above is one of them. Dated January 9, 2022, it resonates hope. While I have no recollection of the week in question, my encouragement to myself in these words is to look at and look past faults, choices, habits and fears., reasons I have used to let things sit, because doing so is who I am and moving beyond is breaking a terrible rule.

February brought an email accepting a poem for a local publication; online this year again as pandemic changes brought about more blog than paper publication of items. March brought another opportunity for essay to be included in an anthology on Gratitude. That one was hard. I fought with it as I fought the topic the past two years in memoir, struggling with what to say. You can’t always repeat thoughts of pain and sorrow. After a while they get wearing even to the writer. Time, as they say, bring change, allows perspective, optimism or hope. I don’t like flogging that last one either. The whole topic reminds me of days in very good mental health groups as both participant and support where I’d struggle with our common leave-taking. Expression of gratitude.

I love the gratitude of walking among trees, sitting by streams, icecream in two flavour stacks on a double cone. The tangible moments that tug at my heart, add colour to the day, draw out my senses, calling like echoes of remembrance to places within. Words are not needed for gratitude, and though I talk to the wind, the sky and the birds, it’s not required by any of us. My favourite memories are smiles and looks that share some moment of grace. The world open up and suddenly a space holds its breath, allowing the wait. Yes, these are the moments I value the most.

And this, at best, is where I sat two silent months waiting for what, I did not know. Some call it writer’s block. Perhaps, at times. But I found so many words bursting within for other places, nowhere at all. They just didn’t fit, and I’ve learned not to force them, though it is hard to sit. My time increased at work, just touching 28 hours. Enough to keep me full-time. Not enough to keep me afloat. I think perhaps writing stalls in the places of loss, where I haven’t chosen career, haven’t braved the risk of siren’s call ‘Monetize Your Blog – three easy steps.” No. I’m pretty sure it’s more than three, and nothing wrong with doing so for those with a plan to earn a living in this way. I’m a bit off topic, but connected still.

Readiness – to write, to paint, to aim for a career – it may need more gratitude than I’ve let myself feel. I joke with fellow writers, once again ‘this year’ is the year I will risk, will submit, will step past the barricade and allow myself to be .. what? There lies the issue. I don’t know what, and a lifetime of habit has taught me to be small, and not even that. One ongoing conversation a decade back questioned the reasons within relationship, to significant other, I fought the judgement I was too big and too small. Not significant enough, but too high and mighty for his daily mood. A bad fit. A poor example, a multitude of labels, and ultimately as my mother assessed it, just the wrong personality for him.

Gratitude. I learned something this year. Looked it up. Not just in my favourite etymology site, which simply defines it as ‘pleasing, thankful’, but in heart’s home, curiosity. This time wanting to know how my love saw it, what it meant in the good places I’d found recent years, encouraged to find myself and grow, being loved as I did. And so, I asked our favourite Google how gratitude was seen in the Hebrew meaning. I found myself among trees, sitting by streams, letting memory ache with the longing of joy, places I’d touched, but not this past year. Places I need to go again, to listen to the wind, let water bugs curl in the waves by my feet. Let this place speak to me its words of tender care. A moment of grief in a lifetime of love.

I am not stuck. I may not always move forward well, but slow, like a turtle or the snails I sat by two summers past, I will get where I’m going. In writing. In life. The moments of connection with present memories allow space for me to listen and to learn. The Hebrew form of gratefulness, like I found with my love, who worked hard with me at relationship, and announced it with a smile, “we worked through some tuff stuff and built a strong relationship”. Yes, Jack, we did, and celebrated it along the way with simple smiles.

Gratitude. I looked it up. I found the Hebrew meaning in several sites, two words ‘hakarat hatov’ with their translation into English. Something beautiful to read. I like the phrase and I like the story I found in one site giving more, an example that touches my heart. Harakat hatov ‘to recognize the good’. It is a gift I will hold onto and learn to live well. And the story, possibly urban legend, about a performance by Itzhak Perlman used to demonstrate what it means.

It seems to be that year, gratitude wants to smile. I’ll wait, I’ll listen and know the good is there. What else is there to say, but thank you for this day.

For those who wish to read the story, I’ll link it here. Enjoy if you will or just wait for your own moment of gratitude, your example, your breeze.

https://jewishcamp.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Gratitude_-_Mussar_Institute.pdf