Four years ago this week, my birthday week celebrations were of a completely different nature than they are this year.
My house had foreclosed and I was moving my remaining belongings out, placing them in a small storage unit. Earlier in the week, I had put the living room furniture, the kitchen canisters and dishes, the beds and dressers, and most everything else from my 3-bedroom, 2-bath house out on the front lawn where a Craigslist ad I had posted announced that all was free, to anyone who wanted them. What little was left over, I took to charity.
It was over 95 degrees that week, and very humid. I remember thinking I was too old to be doing this by myself; I’ve always been pretty independent, but this time it would have been nice to have had help. As luck would have it, however, virtually everyone I knew was unavailable – friends were on vacation, my son had moved to Los Angeles just months before, and other friends had a brand new baby and couldn’t get away. There was just no one around and it was something that needed to be done.
Many things in my life went away during this time, not just my house, and I spent the next two and a half years in a black pit, in a place sometimes called the dark night of the soul, named after St. John of the Cross’s description of the same during the 16th century. I flew under the radar of “normal” life, whatever that is, and I subconsciously set about healing my spirit. I weeded friends’ gardens; I took care of their horse and dog while they vacationed; I baby-sat babies; I repaired screen doors; I fed Dinah Dog and picked up dog poop. During this “dark night,” my body decided to take off on an adventure of its own and it became sick with a number of fairly serious diseases. My life was dark and dim, and every place I went felt dingy. It was as if I was operating by remote control, like some hand was aiming my life and it wasn’t me.
Then about a year and a half ago, a switch flipped on and I felt like I woke up. Like the room was lit with a bright light and it wasn’t the freight train at the end of the tunnel. I was still alive and I knew everything was going to be okay. The “life forecast” was light and bright and the sun was shining. In my heart, I knew everything was going to be okay. Not perfect, whatever that is, but okay. And after the previous few years, okay was not only good, it was great!
This week, my birthday celebrations have included things I like to do for myself, like eating good food and food that’s good for me. Like seeing an Israeli movie dubbed with English subtitles. Like spending time with friends at a kids movie. Like celebrating an unexpected birthday present, the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act. Like dinner and an “art movie” with my son and his partner. Like brushing Dinah Dog and really “being there” to appreciate her and all she’s given me in the 14+ years we’ve had together. And the week isn’t over yet!
Although I no longer have a house, I have a good life – an amazing son, lots of super-terrific friends, wonderful Facebook friends (some of whom I’ve never met but it seems like we’ve known each other forever!), and a glorious adventure around every corner. Did I think I'd be starting my life over at 57? Nope. Do I sometimes wish life was just a little bit easier? Sure. But I love what I have and that makes all the difference.
Thank you for reading my blog today. Writing down my stream of consciousness has been one of the tools I used to heal my soul, and even though I write for me, I know from my readers that I’m not the only person out there who has experienced the things I have in my life. I continue to write for me, and for them.
I leave you today with a Celtic blessing for all of us:
May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.