“What will be born from our sorrows, our joys, our loves, from the brave releasing of a life we no longer live? Being present moment by moment as best you can for what can seem like a deluge of heart-wrenching experiences mixed with joyous, simple ones of celebration, life continues to flow. Hospice and midwifery happen simultaneously inside and outside of us.”
-Excerpt from Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free
Last week I received a phone call from my daughter. “Mom, I have tough news. Are you in a space to learn difficult news?”
I took a deep breath. “Yes. I’m on a news fast. I’m not under a rock.”
She then shared about a 23-year-old woman, a fellow cross-country runner from their high school days, exactly her brother’s age, who had died. The young woman left behind a two-year-old son. We both shared how saddened we were by this tragic news. Our conversation remained brief. I must have said, “I love you so much.” At least ten times. My daughter said, “I love you so much, too, momma.”
An hour later I received a text from my son that he had gotten ill. I called and spoke with him from a place of love rather than fear. We discussed the Ohio State Buckeye Rose Bowl win as I knew he had attended that incredibly exciting, comeback game. We expressed our love for each other, and I offered my good healing energy wishes and prayers for his full recovery. When I hung up the phone, I felt a surge of deep sadness followed quickly by agitation, then full-on anxiousness. Then every movie scene from my life as a mother opened to each moment I had the thought, “Oh, my God, my child could die!”
After years of facing and uncoiling layers upon layers of traumas and heartbreaking happenings, I have learned current day triggers become an opportunity to clear out as many boxes of stuffed emotions shoved into the back of a closet as I possibly can. I no longer suppress anything. The heavy, medium, and lightweight feelings unravel around past experiences. Even when I think I have shed the last tear and allowed my body to shake away the freeze reaction about a happening from years ago, I will bump into a tripwire of accumulated unfelt, raw emotional granules.
I thought of a close friend who consistently reminds me, “Control what you can control, Laura.” I texted a handful of close friends and asked Facebook friends and LinkedIn colleagues for caring thoughts, prayers, healing energy for my son. I knew to reach out because many people happen to be suffering right now with countless challenges including body illness, mental and emotional suffering, rebuilding after fires, tornadoes, floods, and enduring a worldwide pandemic. I continue praying and sending compassion to many people as they navigate the deaths of loved ones, pets, and all types of turbulence.
I wept and felt intensely scared along with anguish and despair in my body while simultaneously my intellect affirmed my son would come through his illness.
How important to feel my cozy socks on my feet, drink hot cups of tea, and continue my self-care routine of running at the lake in the winter with wind chills, meditating, and dancing. As difficult memories uploaded, I stayed as present in my body as possible. I looked outside at the trees, the mountains, the Caroline Blue sky. I refused to wallow in the difficult thoughts, but bravely experienced the tumultuous, unfelt feelings from those many moments of past anguish.
Sometimes when you live through rapid-fire traumas, your body shifts into movements to hundreds of next right actions. There’s no breathing room to freak out or fall apart emotionally.
During this time, I had pleasant experiences, too. I celebrated the news that my Sweet Love, Paul, and his company gained another client. Cuddled up on the couch, we enjoyed two movies. I laughed and cried during Winnie the Pooh and The Sound of Music.
I kept spotting Great Blue (a heron) at the lake during my runs. The sun would shine pink hues on the mountains. One morning snow-covered mountains became embraced by white puffy clouds forming a gorgeous white ruffled blanketed vortex of beauty.
The natural world kept greeting me with its rhythm and flow. I felt the sunshine warm my black leggings and birds sing as I ran in the cold air. I, once again, deepened my appreciation that I am really not living through an Ohio winter anymore. I do not remember hearing birds chirping during my runs through the ice and snow in central Ohio. If the sun happened to shine, I rarely felt its warmth on a bitter January day.
I persisted in my practice of being grateful for the small things such as healthy food, a warm house, vibrant health, a heart, and a body that can feel all these sensations.
I am grateful my son immersed himself in a loving, caring community of people. I knew to not voice my opinions or advice. I believed in his healing process; I respected his privacy. He is an adult now; I trust him to make healthy choices for his life. I know he is strong and resilient.
I remain deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support from colleagues, friends, and family. I noticed I needed this care, maybe even more than my son did.
I also read from cover to cover a book I highly recommend, Atlas of the Heart, by Brene Brown, Ph.D. MSW. I felt affirmed many times for the countless wordless emotions I feel as a mother and human being. I now have several new words and phrases including disenfranchised grief, betrayal trauma, comparative suffering, emotional near enemies, and tranquility. I continue to learn about human emotional realities, and I smile at the divine choreography of reaching for and devouring this book at the exact right time for support and integrated insight. I found my sea legs and my center, once again.
Released from a backlog of emotional debris, I noticed my joy and exuberance for life returned rapidly.
After several days I finally heard from my son. He texted me, I am feeling much better. I called him. We had a conversation about many other topics than his health. After a restorative night’s sleep, I awoke awash in tears of gratitude for his health, his vibrant life, my own resilience, a deep, unshakeable love for both of my children, for many children, beloved ones, colleagues, my Sweet Love, humanity, the natural world, and the precious gift of being vibrantly alive.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.