A year ago today my cat Saskia passed away. For me, the last month is what I and other people would affectionately call a setback.
My kitty Saskia was the first love that taught me about unconditional acceptance and understanding. Losing her was a profound step in my life. This blog post is about seeing grief and the setbacks that may accompany it as an opportunity for greater understanding.
A week after Saskia died, I was tooling around town doing errands, and as I hopped into my car to drive from one store to another, there on my windshield was the cutest little bee. She seemed familiar and had the most wonderful, full rounded figure. I said a quick "hello" and "goodbye" and then swiftly started my car off to its next destination. The bee stayed along for the ride. Atop my windshield, sitting in front of my face, while speeding down the road was this tiny bee hanging on for dear life. "Why don't you just fly off?" kept screaming through my head as I was thinking my car was going to make this bee another traffic casualty. Then I heard myself saying a small prayer, hoping that she made it to my next stop without getting hurt.
I parked. Like a bee with super powers, she looked up at me as if nothing had happened -- piece of cake. I promised myself that if she was still sitting there when I came back from shopping, then it was definitely Saskia. Well, of course she didn't leave. She was stuck to my windshield like glue. Blubbering with all sorts of apologies, I coaxed my little bee angel onto a piece of paper and gently placed her on my backseat. She rode the whole way home with me like that -- completely content. When I got home, I lifted her out of the car and looked for the most beautiful tulip in our yard. There she slowly lumbered off the paper onto the lip of the flower and then disappeared inside.
All summer long I looked for Saskia -- my bee angel -- feeding scraps of dinner to friendly insects, imagining one just might be her. Sometimes a flirtatious fly or crafty spider seemed a little extra fat and cute like her, and I would smile, thinking that she was still around our house. Of course, bully for me, this is when my newly redesigned bee angel charm took shape and started getting more attention in my shop. It was an exciting time.
I'm not sure where magical thinking fits into the grieving process, but I definitely dove in head first and experienced this amazing blissful period where everything I looked at had new meaning and beauty. Possibly denial? Bargaining maybe?
Well, bliss didn't last long. Soon I was mired in a bog of moody grief that vacillated between denial, bargaining, depression, and anger. Sometimes happening all in one day like I was hoping for some kind of award. I was going to kick this grief in the butt like a champion rodeo rider...Woohoo!
Come to find out this gung-ho grieving method can really tire a person out.
Enter stage left -- setback
My creativity took a nose dive and stopped short. I've seen this happen before so I'm not completely perplexed. It's like a knee injury. It just needs time to rest and heal.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do while you've been barreling your way forward to a new level of understanding is just stopping and sitting awhile. It forces you to pay attention. My grief was done with all my demands and needed a softer touch.
As I pondered my creative setback, I realized that this word no longer worked. A setback is a "step back." Like stepping back from the most wonderful painting so as to get a better view of what's truly happening. A setback is your most loving Self saying, "hey, you're about to miss out on the Grand Canyon here, let's pull over for awhile!" Setbacks are moments when you open yourself up to greater understandings that will create a more expansive you.
I must have been a pretty funny sight scurrying around last month looking for the hidden message behind everything that was happening to me during my self-imposed convalescence. There is nothing worse then a impatient type A personality on a treasure hunt. I was relentless. What am I trying to tell myself? What is it?
I can't say how it happened or why it arrived when it did, but I know I couldn't have gotten there without a step back. One day as the spinning thoughts died down in my head, I heard a voice inside me say "I'm okay that you're okay without me."
Now I see how painfully obvious it all was, but shame and guilt are tricky feelings. They lurk in the shadows and cloak themselves as other needs so as to confuse you. The shameful pain that you are ready to let go of an attachment in the physical world is all wrapped up in the false belief that you are abandoning someone and in doing so somehow denying that this love ever existed. To let go and move on is one of the most frightening experiences because two beings are really searching for a way to say, "I'm okay that you're okay without me."
This kind of letting go is like training wheels being taken off a bike or lifting your hands from the handlebars. It's faith in yourself, others and the universe. It's also a person trusting that your love is never ending even when you're okay without them. It's Big Love.
I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. The moment of bliss I experienced last summer, which produced this bee angel charm is one of them. For when someone purchases a bee angel they always have a story of loss to tell, reminding me of our universal human connection.
I am also deeply thankful for this step back -- perhaps a final gift of learning from Saskia. Imagining those words bestowed on me from another has taught me to say them silently to the people in my life who deserve freedom from ties that bind.
No one is abandoned. No one is ever left behind. Nothing can extinguish love that once flourished for it's always there and flows no matter if the physical remnants remain or you have let go.
I am okay that you're okay without me, and I am blessed knowing you are too.