Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
I distracted myself quite cleverly, starting a new job, throwing myself into my life, taking my dog out for long walks, avoiding much time to pause, to really take in the weight of what has occurred. In the midst of all this distraction, my back went out a month ago and it has not healed. My back has always been strong. I have always been strong, but then I found a weakness in it and I wonder if my sudden difficulty sleeping and walking and moving freely and lifting and playing and running and biking is in connection to my brother's pain. On the same day, we both ended up with a heel lift for our left foot...apparently, my left leg is shorter than my right and is putting additional pressure on my spine, which has fairly significant scoliosis. My brother's left leg is also no longer symmetrical with his right. All this is happening around me and I haven't stopped to sit quietly, to listen. I wanted it all to be over. The tragedy ended, why won't the effects? And so I realized, our minds have an amazing ability to cut off from our bodies, allowing our bodies to take on and endure what our minds cannot process. Our hearts, our hips, our backs bear our burdens and we don't even reconnect until we are forced to...bedridden and in pain.
I talked to my yoga instructor, Nianna, a wonderfully intuitive woman with insight and knowledge and compassion that pours out. She suggested I come to the Core Empowerment Workshop and then to Yin Yoga following. I hesitated because of my back and I decided to go because of my back. She suggested I sit quietly and listen. I realized then that listening, feeling, is what I had been avoiding all this time. My back, yes, is susceptible to injury, to stress, but it also speaks to the tightness in my hips, the holding place of our deep emotions. The pain is in my low back, toward my pelvis, the power center of our bodies. I did my best to allow comfort in, to allow the pain to release, as much as I could. Tears flowed freely as I rested in a beautiful studio overlooking the choppy ocean on a brilliant Sunday.
My brother is healing. We are healing. Healing is a process that includes pain and tears, grief and loss, longing. It also includes warmth and compassion, grace, and humility. It is a wondrous process where love really takes hold. I am grateful for the supports in my life, for the moments of oneness to all that is.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
So I rode my road bike. I felt completely vulnerable and uncomfortable. I am used to my mountain bike with thick, knobby tires and front and rear shocks. It's like a cadillac in comparison. I loved the speed, but as soon as I got up to speed, I was ready to slow way back down for fear I would forget again, for the third time how to place my hands to use the brakes. I almost wanted to call it quits, but then I thought, "My brother wasn't scared of this." In fact, my brother was genuinely stoked that I was going for a road bike ride. He even warned me about things to watch for and told me, "I can't wait until I can ride again with you! We have two awesome cities to explore." If my brother's still not scared to get on a road bike, why should I be? And so I kept riding...
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
My brother kept a positive attitude. There were times of frustration for both of us. I think we both wanted to feel that our perspectives and positions were understood. My brother often wanted to "just get out of the chair and walk" but he knew he couldn't. It was a test of patience. It was a test of perseverance. It was a test of communication and of understanding. I think all of us endured the hardships and became closer. I think all of us gained a fuller perspective on each other's experience.
Many nights I was inflicted with bad dreams. I often couldn't remember the exact content, but they definitely related to my brother and the pain he was enduring. I often woke up at 2 or 3 in the morning and didn't go back to sleep until 5 or 6. As time went on, the nightmares faded and I was on automatic pilot. Friends and family told me how nice it was of me to make the choice to stay with my brother. I don't think "nice" has anything to do with it. I love my brother. I almost lost my brother. Being there was a given. People have asked me how it feels to be back. I must admit, I don't know. I hardly knew my feelings while I was in San Diego last month. Now, the experience seems almost far away and distant. I feel disconnected from it, but I also never felt that connected to it. I was both fully present and fully absent. I do know that since being back, I become quickly angered and the anger eventually gives way to tears. I feel like a child. I'm walking down the street with Brodie and Brodie won't drink water. I'm worried about his transition to coming to live with me. I don't know if he's dehydrated. The pace is too slow for me. I'm too hot in my jacket. I'm thirsty and I didn't bring water for myself, just the dog. I feel like punching something. I'm overwhelmed by feelings of anger, sadness, and loss. I picture my brother. I feel the depth of his pain and I feel like I'm going to lose it. I know I want Brodie to drink to prove that I can care for something, to prove that if you just exercise and drink water and eat good food, you will be ok. But life doesn't work that way and the more I worry that he's not drinking, the more he refuses to drink. It's a lesson in letting go. It's a lesson in ridding myself of guilt, thinking that I somehow have more control over life's circumstances than I really do.
So, I'm back at home in South Pasadena. I'm back to my life at work. I'm enjoying early morning walks with Brodie. I'm fostering my relationship, which has been seriously neglected in the past couple of months. I am feeling my feelings for the first time in several weeks. I feel grateful everyday for the many blessings I have received. I make it my intention to notice the daily blessings...the gentle breeze, the chirping of birds, the clouds and the rain, the sun and all of its warmth, my friends and my family, a sense of hope. It feels good to be back in a familiar place where the houses and trees and shops are all where they were before and even though so much has changed, from the outside, not a soul could tell.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Pictures from times before comfort me. I remember the experiences I had with my brother before the accident. He was always so strong and daring, always pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone, yet I always felt safe, knowing he would protect me from danger. I would like to be able to say I protected him from this danger. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Life’s moments are so unknown.
I realized as I was falling asleep last night that pictures capture a moment in time. That is all they capture. I often see a picture and I automatically extrapolate, assuming that the moment the picture took place never changes. I then realized that it is up to the photographer to notice and capture a moment that most of us would not even recognize. A photographer sees a moment of beauty, a moment filled with meaning, a moment that describes an experience in ways words cannot and she snaps the photo. Moments change as rapidly as we breathe and the feeling of the moment changes with it. I wonder who else is paying attention. I wonder how many of us become disillusioned as we look only to one moment or one picture to describe our entire experience. I wonder how many children are fed the idea that a single picture-perfect moment will sustain for the rest of their lives. I wonder how we prepare ourselves for moments like this.
We have taken two trips to the emergency room since Matthew was discharged. An in-home nurse still has not arrived to provide Matthew with the care he was promised and the insurance still has not approved physical therapy. It's Monday and it's the beginning of a new business day. I will probably be on the phone today, attempting to get answers to questions I should not have to ask. If anyone has any question in their mind about whether the health care system here in the United States needs vast improvements, I would be glad to assure you that it is in desperate need of renovation. While Matthew was in the ICU, everything was taken care of. We could not have asked for better care. We had no idea that once he left the trauma care unit, we would have to fend for ourselves. There is no way to know how bad it gets until a person has to try to navigate the system. I am hopeful that one day our country will adopt a system that works, a system that incorporates all of the best ideas of the health care providers and the patients. It is absurd that it would ever take over a week for an insurance company to determine whether my brother with a broken pelvis meets medical necessity for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing care.
I have been taking time to practice mindfulness. I am reading Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is helping to liven my motivation and commitment to mindfulness. I am still relying on The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield to keep this whole experience in perspective. I highly recommend both of these books. They are grounding and stabilizing. Life makes more sense and is much easier to bear when I see meaning and experience on a universal level. As I pay more attention, and as I focus on the moment I am in, I notice how my thoughts are full of fears and worries, followed by impulses. How much of my life is acted out of impulses in reaction to a fear or a worry? How much of my life is acted out mindfully, with intention and purpose? I am on a never-ending journey and I am eased by the idea that no matter what, I have nothing to achieve or accomplish other than noticing. What a difference we would make in our lives and in the lives of others if for just a few minutes a day we each made a commitment to notice a little more, to react a little less, to acknowledge our intuition, and to move forward from this place, rather than a place of urgency or fear...