Three beautifully divine things happened today. After a week of more breakdowns than usual, painful thoughts that constantly interrupted, and overwhelming feelings of despair, I woke up early this morning and went to my living room. I lit a candle and opened the curtains so the soft morning light could come in. I sat and breathed for a while, trying to listen and open and reconnect. Searching for peace and acceptance.
During my last visit home to Georgia, my mom gave me a book that someone had left as a gift for me – A Year with Rumi. Even though Rumi’s work has always resonated with me, for some reason I never opened the book. Rumi was one of my sister’s favorite poets, and I think I just wasn’t ready to dive in that deeply. But this morning on an impulse, I took it off the shelf.
When I cracked open the thick book, a letter fell out of it. It was from someone that I knew growing up who I mainly connect with now over social media, but still deeply admire. It read: Rumi conveys Laura’s loving, other worldly artistic spirit in a beautiful, timeless, uncanny way. She lives on through all of us who knew her, even distantly. And through art. I spent the early morning reading, carefully turning Rumi’s words over in my mind, letting the images and rhythms wash over me. Then I closed my eyes again, finally finding stillness inside.
The funny thing about grief is that in the beginning, you have permission to act however you need. You can spend all day under the covers, not eat, avoid work, ignore social norms and it is acceptable. People respect and protect and cradle you. This is all both appreciated and greatly needed.
But then time moves on and it becomes not-so-acceptable to spend all day in your pjs watching Parks and Recreation. The world continues and you’re expected to continue along with it. And some of the time you can. But now you have a backpack full of depression and panic attacks and dark thoughts and triggers, and you can’t put it down. The backpack makes it harder to keep up with the world. This past week, the backpack was especially heavy.
I think God/the universe/the divine heard my pleas this past week. A few hours after Rumi and into my workday (cheers for working remotely), my doorbell rang. On my welcome mat was a package from a dear friend containing a soft, vintage-style t-shirt. The shirt displayed the cycles of the moon, from its crescent beginning to its full brightness to its slow disappearance into dark. God speaks to us in metaphors, and the moon has become one of my most tightly-held symbols to represent the beauty and complexity of my little sister as well as a reminder of the cycles all around us. A letter accompanied this gift too, filled with beautiful and genuine words that I needed to hear.
At therapy this afternoon, I talked about the traumatic flashes that have been constantly interrupting me, making it harder to focus on work and enjoy my usual activities. Usually we spend the hour talking, but today my therapist guided me through a hypnosis practice that led me to find – for lack of a better term – my happy place to go to when the thoughts get too loud and dominating. Afterwards, I felt a lightness I have not experienced in a long time. I felt a freedom knowing I had a strategy to use when darkness starts to take over.
I asked, and the universe listened. It sent me Rumi, the moon, and a happy place to escape to. Most importantly, it reminded me of the power of community and the deep kindness that exists in people.