Sunday, June 06, 2010

Peonies Now

The peonies are in bloom. Peonies could be my favorite flower if they would bloom for more than a short time. They just go wild for a week or two and then it is over. Their foliage is nice enough to have them around, and their flowers are beautiful and fragrant enough to forgive their short lives - so I have two bushes in my garden. They are far enough away from my house that the roofers did no damage to them. They sure did some damage to the other things....

And now a confession:

I really don't know how to do this. I know you will want to tell me how, but I have to say that I don't think most of you know how either.

I do not know how to be sober for 25 years, 10 months and 2 weeks... and 58 and a half years old.

I do not know how to have in my life at the same time the profound grief of people I love aging and fading away - and at the same time participating in new life and growing relationships.

Yesterday I got to go swimming with my granddaughters. I got to hold the tiny body of my 6 year old granddaughter as I taught her how to float. The tiny, trusting body - as she let go in the water - and then quickly grabbed back when she realized I wasn't holding her anymore.

I got to work on a tiny, tiny hand-knit hat with tiny cable stitches for a tiny grandchild - still four months from being due. The hat is creamy off-white - since we don't even know whether it is a boy or girl. But I cannot wait to start knitting for this child - the child of my only son.

You could tell me to focus on this joy in my life, but I feel that underlying this joy is always this background grief. My peers - my friends - my lovers - my generation... they are leaving me. Many are already gone. I know I am too young to be singing this song... but it seems to be my lot anyway.

I am the youngest of five. My brothers are much older than I. I have always been comfortable with older people. I fear I have made friends with people much older than myself. I have had boyfriends much older than myself. And now they are doing what they do. Some are gone and some are going.

Yesterday I wrote "a love story," and some of you found it beautiful. I think from a distance it is beautiful. From here, it is just really, really sad. I miss him. I can't believe this tough guy, this biker, is a blind old man I am going to visit today with a pie. I am baking him a pie.

I am grateful for the deep lifelong relationships I have had in Alcoholics Anonymous. I cannot imagine walking away from Ed because I found him offensive in those early days - and believe me, he was plenty offensive. But I would have missed someone who has been a beacon of sanity in my life. He has ALWAYS been there. For 25 years, 10 months, and 2 weeks... he has been there.

Yesterday at the Saturday morning meeting, I heard that a very young woman died. I didn't know her well at all. She had 5 months of sobriety. For some newer members of that group, this is the first time they are experiencing the death of a fellow AA member. It is tough. But someone who knew her well said that her husband told her that he was so grateful to the group because the last 5 months were so happy for her. I am so grateful that God smiled on the last five months of her life and she and her family got to have that.

Last night, I got to go to night watch at the home of a fellow member of that group. It is so reassuring to see that the food is still on the table, people still line up for it and eat it, little kids still run around and get into mischief. People still like my pies. We still sit around and laugh on a hot summer night. The phone still rings because people are still calling Alcoholics Anonymous for help, and we still want to answer the call.

Life does go on and it is good.

I have two pies to bake this morning before I go visit Ed and go pick up a sponsee from the airport.

God will show me how to do this. With his Grace.


Hope said...

It seems so bittersweet, holding both newness of life and impending death with the same hands.

Her Big Sad said...

"Underlying this joy is always this background grief....Life does go on, and it is good."

You have summed up so many of my emotions today! I think I'm much too young to be having these feelings (at least until I happen by a mirror!) but it is what it is. And I am so grateful for the "sparkles" in life... as we plod along, working hard, carving out a bit of time for our passions and hobbies, there are "sparkles" much like the experience you described with your granddaughter....and the ones to come when that new grandchild is in your arms...

That's the only way I can get through my big sads, is to keep deliberately focusing on gratitude for my big glads. Such a mix!

May God bless you in a special way today and I'm adding your dear Ed to my prayers daily.

dAAve said...

I think these experiences are what makes life interesting. Knowing that people pass on, whether by nature or by design. That's why it's so important for me to remember to savor every moment.
Have a lovely day, my dear.

Syd said...

I think we have to work through the grief. The loss of people has always bothered me. But it will happen more and more the older I get. I have no choice but to deal with it no matter how sad it makes me. I would rather live and experience what life offers than be in despair.

Kim A. said...

I am also realizing at 48 that I am moving into the beginning of the next stage. For me, it is understanding the wisdom of cultures that embrace their elders. These are the cultures where the elders are revered, respected, loved and cared for as they approach the end of this journey. It just makes sense to me that the wise ones teach the next generation, so on and so on. Like our fellowships...maybe that is why AA and Alanon work. I honor that tradition by listening to those wiser than myself and sharing my own e,s, and h with those I love or whom my HP places in my path. That is the action I take. Your swim with your grand daughter made me smile. I have learned from your own wisdom. Thanks for letting me share my little bit.


Andrew said...

May you know many blessings Mary Christine.

Mia M. said...

here is a post where i am too much of a newbie (i think) to be of any use on the subject. hugs and my love to you. God bless you and and all of your loved ones.

Anonymous said...

I think you answered your own question in the last sentence, Mary.

We need to keep doing our small part like baking a pie, visiting a sick friend, attending meetings, knitting a hat. All done out of love, it has to be the right thing.

Thanks for showing us that at 25 years sober and 58 years old, you still have much to learn,remain teachable, and seek God's will on all matters.

Em said...

God has got you :) I love your sharing, I relate to your feelings and your posts and I'm glad to have found you. Thanks for the comment about me sponsoring, I'm exciting to experience this new part of sobriety for me. Love, Em