I didn’t keep my resolutions in 2015; I don’t even remember what they were, and if I did it would hardly matter. 2015 made no attempt to keep its promises to me. I don’t think I will resolve anything specific this year. That is, I won’t make a point of working harder or getting in shape. I work hard and I’m fine with the shape I’m in. I will write this year. That is something I am doing and will continue to do. I will be brave this year. I will be loving.
At this time last year, I said to Tim “I like that we don’t know what’s ahead. I like that the future is an unfolding surprise”. Well, I certainly didn’t expect it to turn out this way. I never thought I’d be without him. But it happened. It did. It has happened and not just to Tim and not just to those who loved him, and not just to me. The cemeteries continue to acquire the good and the loving and the necessary people of our lives, and sooner or later they will acquire us too. At this time next year, they will have succeeded in claiming at least a few of us. For some, death will not come unexpectedly. We’ll be overcome by illness, we’ll lose a parent, a grandparent, a suffering friend. For others it will be an accident, a sudden event. An attack. And that will happen, year after year, as it always has, until everyone we have ever known or seen or thought of, until we ourselves are dead. And nothing will protect us, not money or doctors or good luck or good design. Not love. Not art.
If you wanted not morbid, you are barking up the wrong girl.
On the other hand, this experience is the only thing we will ever be able to share with every single other organism that has ever lived. Death and water. That is all that joins us together, and that is powerful. I don’t think the worst thing that can happen is that we join with every soul in a great mystery. And whatever that mystery is, it is certainly that. Even if it’s nothing, it remains a communion, and it remains a mystery.
The worst thing that can happen is that we lose compassion. The worst thing that can happen is hatred.
This year, in this grief, I have had moments of losing compassion. I’ve had moments of jealousy. I’ve had moments of being angry at people for having the temerity to be alive while my loved one is dead. I have been angry and impatient and unkind on more than one occasion. I’ve felt the urge to build walls around myself and Tim and not let other people in. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been demanding. And at every turn I have been met with love and understanding and compassion, at every turn I have been shown grace.
This loss has not made me stronger. It has not made me better. But it’s in the dark that you find out who you are, and in this dark, along with all my glaring flaws, I have found out that I am brave. I might have been brave all along. I am brave enough to put my whole heart into painting. I am brave enough to be honest when I do shitty things. I am brave enough to apologize, and I am brave enough to love deeply. I think we’ve all got that, if we look for it.
This year, whatever it holds, will shake some of us to our core. Whoever you are, however you find it, in whatever darkness is yours, I hope that you find your courage. I hope that you are held in loving hearts. I hope that you experience grace.
To those of you who have given these gifts to me, thank you.