On the literal, the figurative, and crying in the car (again)
November 3, 2017
Today I saw a woman crying in her car. I was waiting for the light rail train to pass, singing along to Kelly Clarkson “Love So Soft” with my boys in the backseat, and I looked over. She was alone, traveling the other direction, waiting for a red light and the tears were just streaming. At one point her hand covered her face. I watched her for maybe 20 seconds, but it felt like forever, because I know that woman. I am that woman. We didn’t make eye contact but I wish we would have, so we could have maybe shared a moment of solidarity.
It occurred to me just then that of the many hours I have spent crying in my car in my lifetime, I have never made eye contact with another person while in the midst of it. I wondered how many people have seen me and how it made them feel. I guess I have some sort of expected level of privacy within that cage of steel and glass, but as I’ve learned this past year, any sort of expectations are rarely reality. There must be so many people out there who have seen me, who have thought about me, who have wished they could have shared a moment of solidarity. Being human is such a gift. I wish we could share it with each other with a bit more ease.
This past month has been full of emotion for me. A few weeks ago my parents lost their lovely wine country home to the Nunn Fire in Sonoma county, a home they had recently purchased and moved into only three short months ago. Not only is their gorgeous home gone, but all of the things within it, the things they have collected over their entire lives, over OUR entire lives, are now just nothing but ashes. Of course, everyone is alive and safe and for that we are eternally grateful, but wading your way through a literal firestorm that cleared out almost every trace of your existence in ten minutes flat is an exhausting and humbling experience, and it’s one that has now forever changed our family.
It’s funny how you hear about natural disasters, tragedies, mass acts of violence on the news, and you think, “Oh, what a shame, that is awful, I’m so sorry for those people,” and you kind of follow it for a day or two or maybe three, and then you kind of move on about your life. It’s what we do. Until it affects us personally there’s no way we can possibly relate. To take it a step further, think about all the figurative disasters that roll through our lives- addiction, divorce, death, disease, take your pick off the menu. It may not physically level your entire life but it sure can feel like that. These disasters, both literal and figurative, take time to heal from.
It’s been a year now that I have lived as a single mom, running my own business and household and life, not answering to anyone else. At this time last year I remember the dread of getting up every day, the dread of seeing people I knew that I hadn’t seen in awhile, the burden of having to tell this story over and over again. I feel like I almost don’t even remember the first month I lived alone with my boys, it was like I was in a overdrive blackout state of trauma. But I knew... I KNEW it was so important to do it and live through it and just keep going. I knew that it would be worth it. And I was right.
I have spent this past year standing in my ashes. Surveying my leveled life. Deciding how and when and where to rebuild. For a while I was waiting, looking for someone or something to come and sweep all those ashes away, but now, today, I know. No one is coming, and no one can tell me how or when or where to rebuild. That I must decide for myself. At first that scared me but it doesn’t anymore. I love and trust myself enough now to know how to make those decisions.
As difficult as this past year has been, I am so grateful for that figurative disaster that leveled my life, because now, I am here, a little bit ahead of the game and able to help the people that mean the most to me in this entire world navigate their way through their own literal firestorm. We are all learning together that this is what it’s all about- heart connection, soul connection, loving each other through whatever type of crisis is hitting our lives at the moment. We need love, we offer love, we receive love. And it goes around and around. And the love is all that matters. It's all that's left after the fire.
Cry in the car. Stand in the ashes. Decide when and where and how to rebuild. Tell the story again and again because every time you do you will find different significance in the many parts of it and you will become stronger. It will become your truth and that truth will set you free. We hurt, we grow, we survive, we thrive. Sometimes you are in the driver’s seat and sometimes you are peering through the window, but the answer is always love. Being human is such a gift. Share it with each other easily. I love you.