Simple Gifts

Ostara and the Full Moon of Mourning

Wednesday gratefuls: Changing Kate’s bandages, using lotion on her legs and arms. Kate dressed up for Purim. Kate lighting the Hanukah candles, saying the blessing. Kate and I at mussar. Mountain Waste. More snow. Less fire. Joe. Seoah. Rigel lying over my legs last night as I went to sleep.

Sparks of Joy: Joe, hugging me last night. Seoah, making one of my favorites in her repertoire: breaded shrimp in a sweet sauce.

The first day of retirement, 2011

Each night before I go to sleep I go through the day, looking for gifts I have received. Occasionally, I look for moments when I was a gift to someone else. I usually start at the very end of the day: the dogs clambering up on the bed to sleep with me. Their love. After them yesterday, Joseph hugging me before he went upstairs and saying how much he enjoyed being around. Seoah working in the kitchen frying, twice, battered shrimp. The two of them loving each other, sitting in Kate’s chair together. Laughing. Dan Herman’s offer to bring soup and have conversation. Jackie, hair stylist, “Oh, how are you, honey?” A big hug. Deb Brown, personal trainer, for her body-weight workout for Hawai’i, but even more for the heart-to-heart about our experiences of grief. She lost her husband Dave to glioblastoma last June. Writing Ancientrails. Talking, again, to Mary, sister, and Diane, first cousin, on zoom. Waking up.

Some nights I fall asleep counting my gifts and being grateful for them. One surprise after doing this for several years is that every day, even the day Kate died, has many gifts. I find this practice, which I think I got from Rabbi Rami Shapiro, soothing. Calms any anxieties as I try to sleep. It dovetails nicely with saying my gratefuls each morning when I write ancientrails.

I also take from these practices that after death gifts go on, keep coming. Life and gratitude are constants just as much as life and suffering.

Deb noticed my stride was off when I warmed up before learning my new workout. Balance is the first to go, she said. She recommends walking on the beach, on the soft sand. A workout I can get excited about. Over the last six months my workout routines have suffered and I’ve let sarcopenia advance. I need to get back to the regular, heart beat raising, muscle adding workouts.

There is an element of denial in the fitness movement. It suggests, around the edges, in the irrational moments that if only we run enough, lift weights enough, get enough steps in that we can bypass illness, maybe even death. We humans, most of us, not only teens, can lapse into imagining immortality. Why shouldn’t I be the first?

No. Fitness is about feeling good, about feeling good today. And, after all, today is the only day you have. As to illness, yes it can ameliorate or slow down aging related trouble, fitness can make you stronger, more able to resist disease, so what it’s really about is increasing healthspan. Healthspan is the length of time you can continue doing all the things that make you you. Worth it. Might add years to your life. Might. Not the point.

Right now I’m feeling detrained, slightly wobbly, a bit jittery. Stress, I imagine. And, the long uneven period of workouts.

Look forward to Hawai’i to reclaim my fitness level, get fully rested, and continue grieving from a place of strength, not weakness. Family immersion therapy. Joe, Seoah, Mary, me.


This entry was posted in Dogs, Family, Feelings, Health, Judaism, Shadow Mountain, Third Phase, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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