Friday, April 29, 2016


I’m participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge throughout April.
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

It's been just over two years since Kevin died. I still find myself stunned. At the same time, I'm okay. Most days I think of him with great love and gratitude. Yes, there is some sorrow, but it is no longer the predominant emotion in my body. Two years ago I wouldn't have believed this would be possible.

Two years ago the only way I could think of myself was as a wound. I was ripped apart, bloody and raw. I was a ruined landscape, Dresden after the bombings. Hiroshima. You get the idea. What I felt was greater than need, greater than yearning, greater than anything I could describe. The only thing I knew to do was keep breathing. I made a deal with myself that I would get out of bed every day; that I would wait five minutes before doing something stupid; that I would try to remember that Kevin, who was my everything, still was.

It was a hard deal to keep, but it worked. Most days anyway. It worked well enough that I am still here.

Two years on I still have very bad days. There are times when I don't want to get out of bed, that I need to wait before doing something stupid, that I need to remind myself of just how lucky I am to have had Kevin. Mostly though, my days are okay. Some are even pretty good. A few are incandescent with light and joy. That doesn't mean the yearning and sorrow have gone away; they are still my constant companions, but they are familiar now and softened. They are joined by other emotions like gratitude, forgiveness and hope. Even love.

I have a friend who was very recently widowed. I don't really know how to help her other than to be present and listen without censure, to be evidence that you can survive this and that eventually you will be more or less okay. I remember feeling the way she feels now. I remember having a sneaking suspicion, just as she does, that no one else in the world had ever felt as awful as I did, for all that I knew how very common what I was feeling is. I remember the yearning.

Now she asks me how I survived and I tell her about all the kindnesses great and small I was lucky enough to receive. I tell her about the deals I made and the rules I set. I tell her about how sometimes just one breath is all you need to do, and then the next. And then the next. Even though you are breathing in hell.

She asks me if it gets better and I tell her it gets different. I tell her all kinds of things about letting the light in, about gratitude, about riding the waves. I haven't yet talked with her about the yearning.

I am finding that, no matter how rich my life is now, there is a thread of yearning that runs through it. I want Kevin to know that I'm okay. I want him to see the work I'm doing. I want his encouragement and support. Hell, I even want him to meet my new love, I think they would like one another.

The yearning is always there.

And that's okay. I'd rather know what I am yearning for, what I am always leaning towards, than not know. I'd rather still have the love than never have had it all.

Still, there are days when it is harder than others. So I keep breathing. I get out of bed every day. I wait five minutes before I do something stupid. And I embrace the yearning, just as I have embraced the love, the loss, the gratitude. I embrace because I don't know what else to do, other than to live.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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