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July 19, 2011

So Many Seasons in One Month

Cabin at Shore's Edge, Lake Superior, by Ysabel de la Rosa

We can tech out our lives all we want, but weather remains creation's trump card. Last week, I shivered in sweatshirt layers on the shore of Lake Superior, enjoyed wearing capris (Does anyone else besides me still like to call these pedal-pushers?) as I walked in the afternoon sun on a trail around three ponds in Minneapolis, and had the luxury of deciding whether to eat outdoors or in at the delightful Cheeky Monkey Deli in downtown St. Paul.  The next day, I returned to Texas, where a walk outdoors meant slowly pushing my way through a wall of heat and stepping into a back yard whose grass has a great summer tan and is now covered with lots of dead brown leaves falling from my neighbor's heat-stressed trees. And just yesterday, Minneapolis-St.Paul got hit with the heat, too.  The humidity of the "Land of Lakes" pushed the heat index to 115.  A touch of autumn, near-winter, late-spring, high-summer, and extreme temperatures, all in one week.

 Empty Adirondacks, Lake Superior, by Ysabel de la Rosa
Given that June and July are heavy-duty anniversary times for me, I have naturally compared this collection of weathers to the collection of feelings that accompany the grieving process.  My sister's funeral was held on the fourth anniversary of my father's death. So, this year, I had a cluster of anniversary dates:  June 23, June 30, July 7 ... all related to these two people, ones I love so much I still wonder how it is that I walk around on this earth without them.

Nor did I escape the anniversary body-response. It took me a while to "get it," but I developed a sore throat and fever that kicked in on June 30. Ugh. And I thought I was processing all this better than before. But, experience continues to bear out my belief that the body also grieves, in its own way, and it will have its way! 

As my daughter-in-law and I explored a bit of St. Paul, I noticed a sign in front of a lovely house. "The Center for Grief, Loss and Transition."  The sign alone was a kind of epiphany for me.  It reminded me of one of my duties:  Transition. 

Flowers in Transition by Ysabel de la Rosa

The way through and/or out of traumatic change is, indeed, transition. Loss of a loved one is very much like surgeries. Many surgeries take only one to several hours, yet the time the body needs to heal from them often involves months or even years. Just to read the word transition on the sign felt comforting to me.  I can, yes, I can make a transition into this new, awkward life without the presence of some of the people I love.

Transition holds the word transit inside.  The word tells me to travel.  To travel I need to plan. To plan I need to look consciously into my future. And future means that life continues here and that my journey is not yet done. In my youth, I would take time from work to visit my parents and grandparents. Now, I take time to visit my son and daughter-in-law.  My visits home were always to the South. Now, my visits to "home" and family are North. In the past year, I have not had the energy to take care of a dog and all that entails (no pun intended!), but I have been able to adopt a cat who had been traumatized by being left at a shelter and "lost" his human family.  He talks to me in a language I don't yet understand, and when I am fatigued and on the couch, he curls up beside me, a living, breathing, sentient warmth.  Signs of transition, of moving ahead, of life. Reminders to me that loss does not stop life, even though there are moments at the height of our grief when we might wish that it did. Fortunately, the design is not to be changed. 

Interior of  Center for Grief, Loss and Transition

To learn more about the Center for Grief, Loss and Transition in St. Paul, Minnesota, click here. They are doing very meaningful work. If you live in the area, I hope you will consider supporting them with a donation or helping to spread the word about the work their staff of 11 counselors are doing.  I gained so much, just by seeing their sign!

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