"I like living. I have sometimes been widely, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Agatha Christie
It has been building up for a while now...the grief. Although more truthfully it is always there, it just ebbs and flows. Right now we are in a flow cycle. Saturday will mark the one year anniversary of the death, from cancer, of a good friend of mine - Lance (as we nicknamed him in university). I have been through this before. I lost my friend Tigger five years ago to cancer. Unlike some things, loss definitely doesn't get easier the more times it happens.
I am trying not to be sad, and not to get upset, but apparently my subconscious rules the roost around here. I have noticed as the date comes closer that my chest feels tight often, and there is a lump in my throat that doesn't want to go away. I realized I feel the same way in April when the date of Tiggers death comes near, and in November when my Granny's birthday would take place. She and I were super close and she also passed away five years ago.
I know that none of these folks would want me to be sad, that instead they would rather I savour every moment that life has to offer, be it good or bad or in-between. Some days it is hard to shake the sad feeling though.
I had a day off work, so I decided I would go for a hike in the beautiful rain forest I live in. I was hoping this would accomplish two things, one was to get rid of some of the sad energy that was gurgling around inside of me and two, to be outdoors in nature as a way to honour my friends love of being active.
This hike is about 3 km long and there is an elevation gain of about 850 meters. If this didn't burn off some of that energy, nothing would. At the start of the hike I was just focussed on catching my breathe. Thoughts of Lance came fluttering in. I thought about how much he loved being outside and how he had been in great shape. And I thought about how he teased me about being 'old'. I was eight years older than him, so he was like a little brother to me in university and after. I was really feeling old today at the start of the hike and knew exactly what he would say to me, which made me smile.
Midway up the mountain the grief started to squeeze the air out of my lungs. I was thinking to myself if this is how much it hurts for me, a friend, then what must his family and partner be going through now? Those thoughts hit me hard. I could barely breathe and was trying not to cry. I stopped and looked around me. I was trying to find a way to acknowledge how I was feeling, but also to try and get a grip. I don't want to be sad. I want to celebrate his life and to carry his spirit in a joyful manner. Eventually I started walking again.
Up and up I went. The higher I got the easier it got to breathe and the less sad I felt. I was thinking of more joyful times and not focussing on the loss. I thought of some funny things we had talked about or that had happened, and for some of the hike I just focussed on the hike itself. I listened to the birds chirping and gave a chipmunk some room to scoot across the trail and up a tree. I smiled as he squeaked sharply at me, likely telling me to shove off as I was in his territory. I inhaled deeply when I hit spots that smelled like sweet cedar. I gave thanks for the opportunity to be able to hike this mountain and to feel truly alive.
The grief is still there of course, but I do feel better. Mother Nature wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug today. For that I am grateful.
Peace out my beautiful friends...