Well, I must say that this day was not anything like I expected it to be a couple months ago. Not long ago I did some EMDR and "re-programed" the day of Dad's death. I looked at it not from a caregiver's point of view, but from Little ME's. Don't ask me how, but it took away a lot of the sadness and fear.
To honor his memory, I decided to go to Dad's favorite beach instead of the cemetery. It was an overcast, foggy gray morning. The tide was low enough to drive onto the beach and watch the waves come rolling into the shore. "Only the waves are faithful" my father once said after being ditched by his fiance for a Community Theater cast party. After awhile, standing in calf deep surf, I scattered some of my parents' ashes. Prayers came easily. Along with comfort and grace. Then I went to church, bought myself some sunflowers, and listened to a radio station that plays only Country Music oldies. A perfect tribute, I think, to the man whose presence has been gone for a year, but whose spirit lives and breathes in the walls of this house.
Today was also the first day of an on-line class I'm taking called Breaking into Blossom - moving into an improvisational life.
"What is improvisation to you?" was the first question asked. Seriously all I can think of is Comedy Central where actors are given an assignment like - you're an escaped monkey from the zoo and you hail a cab that takes you to Madison Square Garden. Then of course the talented actor(s) performs a skit dramatizing that very thing without even giving it a moment's thought. I guess that's where the improvisation comes in. He doesn't think. He just moves into it.
I'm still working on the questions how and when do I improvise. I'm sure I do, just not sure I'm aware of it. Maybe going to the ocean instead of the cemetery was a form of improvisation. Maybe taking my Oki bear for comfort, a prayer book for peace and a journal for thoughts were all improvisation as they were the things I picked up as I walked out the door with no thought as to why or what I'd do with them.
Another assignment was to pick one of the instructions from "A Poem of Change" by Pauline Oliveros and watch how it "colors your work, your play." I chose "change with the light."
At first I interpreted "light" as being the opposite of heavy. My thought being that if I can, indeed, take off the mantle of grief, like some old Jewish lady, then my body is sure to feel if not ready to do a jig, at least lighter.
As I headed to the beach, however, I saw how gloomy the sky in the East was. I saw that while it wasn't dark, it wasn't really light either. I sat on the beach and took it all in - the gray sky, the white foam at the tips of the waves, white crests on the sea birds, a couple white clouds trying to break through the fog, and finally the sun glistening on the water. Being there in the moment, seeking light felt right. Is that improvisation I wondered.
After a time I packed up my things and headed for church. I was not even out of the state park before I noticed the blue skies. It was if I was driving from the dark into the light - going from the gloom into the light of what comes next. Waiting for the service to begin I looked over my shoulder and beheld light streaming through a marvelous stained glass window reminding me of the Elizabeth Kubler Ross quote:
"People are like stained glass windows.They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,but when darkness sets in, their true beautyis revealed only if there is a light from within."
I'm not so good at patting myself on the back or acknowledging my good deeds, but I think I can say that in my years of caregiving, even though I cried many a tear and shouted many a curse word, there was a light within me. I didn't always see it or believe it, but it was there.
Change with the light. I will continue to work with this thought as I move into what comes next.
May your light shine,