• Karen

Beginnings, endings, joy, and sadness

Updated: Apr 12

In 2005, I packed my entire life into a station wagon and drove to the west coast to start the next phase of my life. I was so fond of this statement it was the opening line of my professional bio and speaker’s introduction for years. The truth was more complex. It was a time of endings and beginnings, and I was taking the chance that I could create a new life where I would be fulfilled and happy. The results were mixed.

Another time of change is upon me now, whether I like it or not, and this one is swathed in sadness. Why am I sharing this news? For the same reason we announce anything else formative in our lives, the events of the last few weeks have shaped and are shaping who I am…and who I will become.

The last few years have been filled with trials (God knows we are all sick of Covid related news) and successes (say hello to a Pushcart nominated poet) and constant hoping for normal, whatever that is. I kept working thanks to technology. I actually love online teaching, and I tried to nourish my personal and professional relationships, even when I had to do so over the phone, through social media and email or on Zoom.

In the fall of 2021, life presented me with a gift – a first grandchild. Coming into my life after months of a pandemic, he gives me hope for a better future. But that’s not my story; his parents are living that adventure.

No matter how carefully you manage your life, or how advanced you think your coping skills are, you cannot out wit, out run, or out smart death.

The man whose love brought me to the west coast has died.

I am awash in decisions and tasks, and struggling to understand what to share and what to hold in my heart. I know I’m going to need help to move forward, and at the same time I’m hoping to be as strong and independent as I can. In other words, I am overwhelmed and a bit confused.

The writing community on Twitter has been great about helping me understand that grief can do strange things to the creative process. Friends and family are mindful of my sorrow. And I am moving through the hours with a tingling awareness of the edges of my body and my soul that seems to be itching to escape through my skin. I’ve got a lengthy to-do list of practical items, and yet I have no idea what happens next.

I do know is that the demands of life keep marching on, and spring is inching closer. Reinvention and rebirth are bound to happen all around me, and I must figure out my place in this new world that contains a fresh, open, and tender wound.

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