I’ve cut them down, chopped them off. Year after year, I’ve done that. And each time, with each one I chop off at the knees, I get an overwhelming sense of sadness. But the time comes when I’m done with them….cut them off and toss them out. They no longer hold beauty for me. But as I do it, year after year, my mind is always overtaken by the memories spent amongst them, of the people and the happy times shared. Those bittersweet memories of moments I know can never be recaptured. And as I purge them, one by one, time after time, I’m always conscious that I can’t spend all my days basking in sunshine. Times goes on. I change. You change. Everything eventually withers and dies as the darkness comes early. Each day has its end. It always does. The landscape becomes barren. And then I withdraw and I hibernate with myself, looking out and looking in. My mind always darker as I ask myself how much longer I can go on, continue to live in this landscape devoid of sunshine and the evidence of life.
The past few weeks have been some of the darkest I’ve had to live through since Ben died. Don’t know why, but I believe I may be coming out of my “shock” and really having to search for strength to get out of this darkness, back in the game. I was asked the other day if I could see anything beneficial, if I had any thought that might help me, about these dark days that I am living in, as I withdraw from the people around me, shielding myself from the world, feeling alone. Ironically, that question was posed to me just a few hours after I began to think of myself as a perennial flower. No, contrary to what my kids might think, I am not narcissistic. I don’t stand in front of my mirror, looking fondly upon the person staring back at me, thinking of myself as a beautiful flower. Quite the opposite. You know me, I have this crazy mind that plays these dissociation games with “me” because I often can’t fathom or handle the depth of my pain. So I guess it seems easier to allow these visions to play out in my head, these visions of me as an “object” that can be examined and manipulated, persuaded or molded toward motivation. Hmmmm.
So, in this crazy way, I envision myself as a perennial flower. I’ve spent many years out in my flower beds, planting, rearranging, admiring. And at the end of each summer, as the leaves start to turn and the nights fall earlier, I scurry to clean up the flower beds, pulling out the annuals, cutting back the perennials. Getting sadder as the next day becomes shorter, knowing a barren winter lies ahead. I fully anticipated being more depressed than usual this winter! No surprise – I hate winter to begin with and Ben died on April 30 last year, before all the perennials had burst forth after the long winter. Winter and the death of one of my babies. A horrific landscape to face day after day. I long to feel warmth and sunshine on my skin and more joy in my heart, as I hibernate day after day, praying that these cold dark days will soon end, both outside my house and inside me. As I walk around thinking, I realize that nearly every perennial, though cut down, chopped off at its knees time after time, does come back to life each spring. And the barren landscape that I so detest lends itself to rejuvenation, the gathering of strength, the promise of beauty returning after a long, dark winter, though just wisps of sunshine may be visible at times. Even the perennial that has spent many years tucked safely within the white picket fence, shielded from the worst of the storms, like I had been, can be abruptly uprooted, moved to a landscape totally foreign to it, buried under the suffocating darkness that gives it life, and still, at some time, in its new place on this earth, have its beauty re-emerge. It takes time…maybe a lot more time than anticipated. And maybe its beauty won’t be as prolific or as eye-catching as in the past, but hidden deep within the roots, somewhere, hibernating if you will, is a strength that brings that perennial back to life, allowing it to survive and perhaps even flourish in whatever corner of the garden it finds itself in. I hope. That’s all I can do as I dwell in this darkness of my life…..hope that I am rejuvenating, gathering strength. Holding onto the hope that I will and can move forward with the promise of spring as I emerge in my new place on this earth.