It’s not you, it’s me. I am the one who has to leave for reasons not related to you. These are my issues and everything you have given me will forever be remembered and cherished – every…THING.
I started out with you as an insecure, lonely, desperate, questioning ,and sad person who struggled to put one foot in front of the other. You handed me comfort and a place to hide my shattered self. You gave me permission to cry aloud in the emptiness of your halls to release all the acid in my belly, all the pain in my heart and all the desperation in my soul with loud, endless jagged, sobs. You allowed me to escaped the memories I couldn’t face at the home, the home Peter and I built, because the agony would draw me into a deeper despair. I was the clown who hid my tears with a quick joke, or a snide remark and you showed me a place where I could let it all come out with authenticity. You helped me stand on shaking ground because in you, I found my courage to grow.
My words flowed in blogs and personal journals in the rawest of honesty because of you. My finest writing to date, the writing that touched me and helped me, was done because of the peaceful solace you offered and I took. I felt the most when I was here, with you, and those feelings poured out of me like an unstoppable leak. They weren’t all bad feelings, not like the ones I had in Peter’s and my home, rather a variety of feelings, some not even touched on until I was with you.
The view you offered me were of dreams I have dreamed since I was young. The beauty of the city always drew me in from the time I was a fifteen year old traveling over an hour to work in the heart of the city where you are centered. Every single time I drove the expressway in to visit you, and saw the city’s skyline, a giddiness took over like none other since Peter died, until it didn’t anymore. And when I got to you, Discovery, with your view of the river and the lake I asked for so I could feel connected to Peter’s love for sailing, I felt a certain fleeting peace. You were mine and mine alone and in you I knew I had to find a new part of me. The other part died and could not be resurrected. I knew this and you knew this. I was growing, am still growing, a part in me which I need to learn to love as much as the part that died with Peter. You were my watering can.
And now, I have to leave you. Despite my love of your views, my nostalgic feels of the city, the raw emotions of my writing, I rediscovered something else. See, I tried to run from a place which always held my heart. I needed to heal the heart I had in me, and escape from the reminders that squeezed the living crap out of it. I was left in a pain I hope never to go through again. But here’s the thing, Discovery, despite it’s constant kneading of my heart and soul, it still never let go of my heart. It remained my place of familiarity and my sense of belonging. It was where I grew the best parts of my life – Peter and my children – and where I know I can grow again. I live in a community of friends who came together to mourn with me, support me, help me. Around it, lives my son, most of my tribe of girlfriends who were, and continue to be my pillars. Scattered among it are the ashes of the person who meant the most to me,and where I feel the spirit of him in hawks flying above me. After I stopped being angry with the home for all its memories of Peter, I knew I needed to go back because it is where I will thrive the best I can.
I know I used you, Discovery. I wrapped myself up in your seductive panorama and your endless possibilities of activities. Toward the end our six months together, I did grab opportunities that you offered – theater, the Art Museum, more writers groups, restaurants, friends and family visiting, and I even committed to grief groups. I tried to keep us alive by signing another lease and fantasized about the Fourth of July fireworks going off just east of my balcony, summer festivals, outdoor concerts, the Holidays, walks along your rivers and lakes to catch sights of the sailboats, the sailboats Peter once captained. But COVID hit and well, I was stuck inside and stagnated when I wanted to and needed to grow. Home called back to me with its seductive warmth of familiarity in its sights, sounds, support and hometown love. I had to go back.
I don’t blame COVID, not really. I think if there wasn’t COVID, the emptiness, even in the midst of all the activities would still be felt, and the heart home held would still be missed. I don’t know. I guess I’ll never know. COVID did force me to stay put in the house Peter and I had, to feel all the feels I pushed back because of your alluring seduction, but no longer enticing for me. Once I decided to get rid of all Peter’s stuff except the important trinkets of remembrance, I did feel freer. Once freer, I made decision after decision to get the house in order in order to move out, and rebuild…but in the community that my heart beat in.
So, my friend, I have mixed feelings of letting you go. I will remember and be thankful for some of my more courageous moments while I was with you, ones perhaps I wouldn’t have taken without you. I will forever smile back, remembering the Zen-like moments when the weather allowed me to sit on the balcony, glass of wine in hand, and take in the loveliness of the surrounding sights. And I hope I can conjure up the giddiness of my first walk in the door in the future, the kind of giddiness only a vacation can bring. I will visit the city I love, perhaps weeks on end at a hotel or an Airbnb, but I can’t keep you, not anymore.
Sometimes, I feel my loneliness when I with you. The initial high is wearing off . It is being replaced by the loneliness of a ghost town COVID created and the missing connections of home. You did everything right. I grew up is all. And really, vacations do need to end sometimes. Now, I feel the pull back to the friends and community I left to be with you. Even though COVID doesn’t allow face-to-face, it doesn’t stop my spirit from the feeling of home. I feel okay in the home that Peter and I established. Soon, it will be time to leave there too as I take the next step in my own, new beginning. That’ll be another blog and for another time. Today, it’s all about you.
As I pack up these next few days, a task I find daunting especially as I do it by myself, a reoccurring theme since Peter died – damn COVID for making it even more so – I want to thank you. I am grateful for all you gave me in the beginning, a time I needed you the most. You did serve your purpose. You gave me strength to get off the ground, move, survive and now, begin to live. You cut a hole in the cocoon Grief wrapped me in. It’s up to me to break free altogether. The place I feel the best to rip the shell off and fly, right now, is back home. I know it will take more time, but I know it’s time I can no longer spend with you. Again, it’s me, not you.
The Widow Betsy