Sunday, February 16, 2020

The little things that matter

For the past five months, one thing has remained constant: Little things matter a lot. They can be both positive and negative—moments, actions, memories, whatever—but they all matter. I don’t think I could have learned that until I went through this.

The negative things are probably the most obvious, but also the least significant. A photo, a random memory, reading some of my earlier Notes in this series, those things and more can make me cry. But I don’t actually need much help or encouragement to cry about losing Nigel because the searing pain of that continues, sometimes like a punch in the stomach, other times like a knife shoved through me, but the pain is always physical as well as emotional.

It’s the positive things that I tend to notice, partly because they’re so unexpected, but also because of how transformative they can be.

Some months ago, a relative was staying with me at the old house, and I was sitting in the lounge in a chair I didn’t normally sit in, absorbed by whatever I was doing (probably looking at my iPad). Off in the guest room, my sleeping relative was snoring, and in my distracted state I thought it was Nigel and for a few blissful seconds, my nightmare evaporated, and the pain and profound sadness was lifted, and things were as they were, as they should still have been.

That moment ended after only a few seconds, but it was the first time anything had completely transported me out of my grief and sadness, and, great, though brief, that it was, it also showed me for the first time that it was even possible to be lifted and transported out of my grief. It wasn’t the last time.

A few weeks ago, a dear long-time friend who lives in another part of the country sent me a couple plants to help me get my new garden started (the property has no landscaping, a subject in itself). It was a lovely and kind thing to do, but their arrival was very important to me for another reason, as I explained my friend in an email:
The plants arrived this morning in perfect condition. Better still, it gave a me a few minutes off: I spent a few minutes thinking about where I might plant them, looking out the windows for where they'd look best from inside as well as outside. It was the first time since I shifted in that I had a "normal" new house moment, and for those few minutes I was able to forget about WHY I'm in a new house. Thanks for that in particular—it was an even better gift, to be honest!
It was the second time I’d been transported out of my new reality, and while neither of these lasted more than a brief time, they both showed me it’s possible to exist outside of grief. It’s easy for me to forget that, which is why such small things matter so much.

Today I had more of the more negative sort, which is, of course, the most common by far. That doesn’t bother me because, as Nigel so often said, “no one ever died from crying.” Even so, there was something new even in that: For the first time, I felt better after crying. At the time, I felt like I’d been like a volcano releasing the magma that had been under pressure. It was tears, not lava, that was flowing, but the result was the same: Some pressure was released. While I don’t mind crying, today’s was, well, special, for lack of a better word.

Taken together, all those little things have been the first that have in any way helped me transcend my new reality, whether by allowing me to temporarily exist in a reality where the nightmare never happened, or where I could briefly be a typical owner of a new home, or where I could cry and actually feel better.

I don’t know when or why such little things happen, but I’m hoping that there are more of them, whether moments, actions, memories, whatever. They all matter, and I don’t think I could have learned that until I went through this. That little thing helps, too.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

"I don’t think I could have learned that until I went through this." True enough.