As I looked out the window of our tiny mountain apartment I could see the fog creeping in over the foothills. It looked just like how my soul felt, thick and lingering. Earlier that week I became connected with a part of myself I never knew existed until now. Im talking about the part of yourself that surfaces only after life's unimaginable occurs. Earlier that month the love of my life and the father to my two boys died and I was left to face the rest of our lives alone, or so it felt. Each moment that passed brought more intensity to the excruciating pain my heart was attempting to adapt to. How could this have happened? How could this now be our life? Moreover, how could I survive this life without him? I can tell you this for sure, I never knew how strong I was until that is all I could be. It has now been three years and my soul still yearns for him, my body still craves his touch but my heart has accepted that he is only with us now in spirit.
Death is the worst part of life. Sometimes its unexpected, other times it comes as a slow dance into the unknown but all are heartbreaking and sometimes soul crushing. But what if I were to tell you that in those moments of utter despair we have the ability to become deeply self-aware? What if the very essence of our pain is in fact the exact thing we need to find enlightenment? Its not as wild as you might be thinking. When the dust settles, there is nothing to do but face the reality of things. That reality is different for everyone but for me… my reality had become a struggling, poor, 29-year-old, widowed mother of two.
It was early September in Colorado. The weather was still breezy and warm during the day but the evenings were beginning to drop in temperature. The evening fog was becoming my new and closest friend. I would watch it out my living room window as it slipped down the green mountain side over the two-lane road that separated my apartment building and the base of the foothills. My eyes stayed fixated on the fog until it crept under the rows of cars that made up the complex parking lot. I would stand at that window and stare out at the world until my eyelids felt as heavy as my heart did. I don’t know what it was about that particular evening, maybe it was that deep orange and purple sunset that was almost covered fully in the deep layers of low lying clouds. Whatever “it” was sparked a life inside my heart that I knew I was destined to live… an acceptance of the pain and a young wisdom sprouting from it all. It was as if I truly felt the separation of my mind and my body. The physical separating from the mental. I’ve had a few close friends tell me I suffered a “mental break,” but to me it was a moment of true clarity. I began to feel a sense of sturdiness within me, deep within me. Though everything was falling apart around me I suddenly never felt more in charge of my life than I did at that moment. Now, mind you, I had no clue of how to steer this new-found perspective but I was sure a hell ready to forge the path into the unknown.
All the books I found in the libraries explained people can experience moments of clarity or moments of self-awareness in times of deep anguish. This terminology I’d heard before but up until this point in my life I felt the deepest moment of clarity I could experience was childbirth. I had already experienced this twice being a mother of two boys! I began to research everything from enlightenment to meditation to the teachings of Buddha. Slowly but steadily I began to rebuild my daily life not around the pain but through the pain. I began to take yoga classes, mediate and read an insurmountable number of books. I changed my way I viewed nutrition. I stopped worrying about everything around me that was monetary and began memorizing the creases in my children’s faces. The way they focused so hard on one task at a time. No, competition just living. I began to hike more and with every step along that mountain side I didn’t have to remind myself to stay conscious of the beauty around me, I just was conscious. To this day I can recall almost every moment in the past three years and exactly how I felt, reacted and lived in it. I think we all yearn for the deeper understanding into life’s great “unknowns.” We want to know that we are meant for great things. I believe through this experience that the universe has granted me the ability to grow through this soul shattering devastation. It has given great perspective of how to not just survive great loss but how to embrace it, to truly grow from it. Every time I go to peer out the window onto those glorious foothills I no longer wait for the fog to cover another sad day but yet remain still in the warmth of the sunset, a conclusion to another touching day that I lived and not just survived.