February is here and I’m inevitably thinking about Jody even more than I already do. He was born this month on the 26th, I still remember that day in a tiny Jakarta hospital: Our Dad was sitting in a chair in front of me pale and looking like he was going to puke his guts out with worry. His first son. And I was sitting, or standing, or pacing, or whatever to try and take in with my five year old mind what that day really meant.
And after Jody died I struggled to understand what that really meant too. He died, he was gone, but what did that mean exactly? My mind was frozen with shock and terror at even the idea of it. After the memorial here in Anchorage everyone went their separate ways to face grief in their own way. I went home and lay on the couch. And layed and layed.
Jennifer had to be the one to hold things together, going to work to do her usual job and then having to do all the things I do around the house too. She was exhausted and grieving but still so desparately doing everything possible to help me. But I just layed there on the couch.
At night I would have vivid terrifying nightmares about Jody’s life and death but during the day I was…frozen. I remember thinking wakeupwakeupwakeup all day long but…nothing, and being hooked up to the computer like it was some sort of life support machine. Before going to work Jennifer would push the computer in front of me and turn it on and put my arm on the tray where the mouse was lol. The small amount of time I wasn’t totally out of my mind and zoning I just clicked random links on Reddit or YouTube. It was something.
After a while this started to really work. I mean, I was finally able to spark up my mind and think coherent thoughts, even if it was just about lolcats or random tech stuff or bmx videos. Even if it was just for short amounts of time I mean fuck I was thinking something at least. Soon (okay months later) I became a pro at filling my brain with all sorts of interesting but not really relevant to my life distracting activities. Anything not to have to think about what it meant that Jody was gone.
It seems like the human mind can be set on autopilot and exist in a whole other world, not even being aware of the ground we walk on or the rooms we live in. Some people end up spending their entire lives like that but I didn’t want to. I had a beautiful, loving wife who was working herself to exhaustion trying to make sure I was okay. I knew that I could easily miss out on years of our future life if I didn’t get it together and come back to reality. There’s a lot to be said for being where you actually are even if you’re facing great tragedy.
First I had to get past the horror and shock of Jody’s death. Then I had to snap out of the avoidance and distraction habits I’d got into. Finally I had to make a strong effort to really concentrate on seeing things as they actually are. Does that sound ridiculously easy? It’s harder than you might think.
This is the month that Jody started life.
Here’s a good video about seeing things as they actually are esp during times of grief and loss. And why you would even want to do that :).
Here’s a transcript for people who can’t access the video:
What if you already are complete? What if it just doesn’t get any better than this?
And I’m not just talking about some pie-in-the-sky thing I’m talking about even if you had some terrible situation that you were dealing with? Either a health problem with yourself or somebody that you loved, or a loss in your life? Or anything like that.
Still, what if it were possible to hold the whole of it in awareness and allow it to be just as it already is? That would be an incredible radical act.
It would be an incredibly radical act and it would be really an act of profound wisdom. Because we would see struggling to sort of deny the way things actually are, but actually investigate things as they actually are.
And you might find that inside the sadness, the grief, the despair lies something else too. Lies some kind of beauty, some kind of humanity, human understanding that understands that things are impermanent that nothing stays the same. That there is loss, that it’s not possible to control the whole universe, that even in terms of our bodies that this is something that is to a large extent a mystery. But it’s not all ugly it’s not all black.
Even in the midst of utter darkness there’s this other element. Of beauty, of symmetry, of the natural world.