A Mexican sunrise

View from the writing table

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’d intended this blog to be an inspiring journal of healing. Grief turned out to be tougher and less interesting than I imagined. I think my faith life, Christian and Buddhist, equipped me for a better first stage of grief than most, cushioning the initial shock, understanding Hal hasn’t gone anywhere in an absolute sense and is okay. The next stage – realization of the permanence of this loss, understanding Hal is not away on a long vacation – was slower and worse, and monotonous, nothing worth writing about, just sad day after sad day, reaching into my pocket to text Hal about this or that and realizing for the thousand-someth time that he doesn’t have his phone on him.

I’m understanding grief will never go away. But in divine mercy it does mellow and mature. Coming up on ten months since Hal’s passing, I feel the realization stage dissolving and something-like-normal life starting to return. New, vibrant faith communities both Zen and Episcopal have helped, and so has a support group, and walks and talks with a friend who has been going through loss of his own. And a big transition I crossed last month was Mexico.

Nothing is worse in grief than the first withouts – the first walk by the lake without, the first time cooking a favorite meal without, the first holidays without. Over the last several years Mexico had become so special to Hal and me, I wondered if I could handle that without at all, if I’d ever go back. The standard advice is not to avoid things you did and places you went together – your memories will be suppressed and won’t turn sweet.

Going to Mexico when the fall semester ended last month was taking that advice too soon. But I can’t stand winter weather in Milwaukee and didn’t want to wait half a year to be warm. When the plane landed I was in such a funk missing Hal I didn’t want to get off. The flight was turning around to Chicago and I could have afforded the change fare to stay in my seat and bail on the whole thing. Fortunately we were at an outdoor gate and the rush of summer-like air when the exit door opened was just enough to lure me out.

Aware of my situation, my hotel upgraded me free to a spectacular suite with a private balcony looking out at the jungle and ocean. I decided to stick it out in the luxe surroundings, but the grief was so heavy Puerto Vallarta barely registered – the first day I could’ve been in Siberia for all I noticed of the palms and breezes. The sadness did slowly lift, though, as I meditated by the ocean and Mexico began accenting Hal’s presence rather than absence. Just as I was hitting the Vallartan groove it was time to leave.

With a slice of winter break left and my between-term duties at school discharged, I hopped a flight yesterday and came back. This time when the Pacific sparkled out the plane window and Puerto Vallarta came into view on the steep sides of its mountains, I couldn’t wait to get down there and walk the streets with Hal’s Mexico-sharpened soul. For the next five days I haven’t planned much aside from reading, writing, meditation and prayer, lots of it at the beach. I’m taking it as a retreat, to celebrate the wonderful life with Hal that was, and open to vibrations of what might be next. Listo is the word here. Ready.

2 thoughts on “A Mexican sunrise

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