The Road Home
For most of my life, including childhood, I tended to be focused on others, busily taking care of everyone else. And I absolutely love nurturing others. When I was at my busiest, raising five daughters, people who loved me would remind me to “take care of yourself, Susan!” I always responded with, “Oh yeah, I’m working on that,” but inside I would think, “What the hell does that mean? Eat good food, exercise, take my vitamins?" I had no idea what it meant to take care of myself.
Over three years ago, when I found myself divorced, and living alone at 60, life gave me an opportunity to explore this further, as life will do. Staring into the abyss of a future that was most definitely NOT what I had pictured, the lyrics in my head were from a song by the Hollies: “The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where…”
I’d love to be able to neatly wrap this up by telling you I’m all fixed now. I’ve turned all the winding turns, and I know where that road leads. Not so. I’m learning that the concept of neatly wrapping up a life is incompatible with being human. I am still on the road. When I was getting divorced, my stepmom, Patty, sent me a song that explains it far better than I can.
“It don’t feel right, but it’s not wrong.
It’s just hard to start again this far along.
Brick by brick, the letting go,
As you walk away from everything you know.
When you release resistance
And you lean into the wind,
Till the roof begins to crumble,
And the rain comes pouring in,
And you sit there in the rubble,
Till the rubble feels like home.
That’s how you learn to live alone.”
From “How You Learn to Live Alone” by Gretchen Peters and Mary Gauthier
I’m still learning to sit in the rubble, to release resistance and accept the changes. Many days now, I can see and feel the hidden gems in the rubble: the joys, and the learning, and the connections with others I am making. And some days it just feels like rubble, and “the rain comes pouring in,” which is my clue that there is more grieving to do.
The road is long, and it's starting to feel like home.