losing oneself.

November 20, 2013

six weeks ago my house was broken in to. it is easier saying ‘broken in to’ than robbed, because when i say it like that, there are a few seconds of hopefulness built in for both me and whomever i am telling my tale to that maybe it was broken in to but nothing was taken.

sadly, that is not the case. i had an appointment on a wednesday morning and was gone for less than two hours. in that little space of time, someone or ones twisted the screen off of my daughter’s window – a window that i had forgotten to close – hoisted themselves in to my house using a sprinkler pipe in the flower bed, and took almost every piece of jewelry that meant something to me, had been handed down to me, had been found scouring antique and silver shops in foreign countries, had been slid on to my finger in love and commitment, had graced the neck of my great-grandmother sara, my grandmother audrey, and eventually me as a token of love from my parents when i turned thirty. all of the history and beauty and symbols of love, gone. just like that. the abrupt loss hit me like a train.

what struck me as the day wore on is that as my house was being ransacked, i was sitting across from my sister, talking about my beautiful new love and my joy and overwhelm within it. how new love meant the last vestiges of old love were tucked away in photo albums and boxes of keepsakes and that piece of your heart where you place the ones who have been with your memories and gratitude so that the one who now is has a place to be. this man that i found and who found me occupies a very different place in the world than i do – and i have been learning to allow for his tender, funny, arrogant and gorgeous ways. it is a big lesson for me, learning to receive him and his heart-driven generosity. that morning loreen asked me if i could just breathe and let it in, to surrender what has been for this new place. i told her i would try. an hour later i was standing in the middle of my house with what felt like all of the air sucked out of my body, looking at drawers opened, closets rifled through, bags turned inside out, the contents of my wallet on the living room floor, and the box which holds my pup jaxson’s ashes upside down on my bed. the hardest part? strangers were in my house with my dogs, my epic-failure-as-guard-dog pups who probably invited them in with their respective pit bull and chihuahua tails wagging, then offered them coffee.

it seems like a lot, surrender and robbery all on a random wednesday. that’s so much for the universe to ask of someone, to allow things in, and allow things to go, in one condensed set of hours. but it’s just the beginning, and before i go on with my story, i just would like to acknowledge: my god it has been forever since i have been here. writing. alone. letting thoughts swirl and ruminate and land. i have missed you words. missed you friends who i send this to. miss you quiet process of being in the center of self without interruption {hopefully} and allowing everything to leave my scattered mind and make sense on a quiet white background. oh how i love the quiet, white background. but you all know that.

so the robbery happened and i was flattened for two days, and on the morning of the third day i woke up and everything was..soft. my heart was soft and my mind was restful and i thought of the beautiful pieces that had been taken from me and i was okay. i was so lucky to have what i had for as long as i had it, and like everything i have cried over and mourned and held on to with my fiercest grip, the act of opening my hands and releasing and saying goodbye contained its own sweet poetry and sense of movement forward as i made space for something new. i adored my wedding set, the engagement ring i designed, and i had planned on giving it to maya once she was older, for she is the most beautiful gift that came from the years ricky and i were together, and she rules our hearts. the vintage necklace that was my great grandmother’s, well there are no words for how much i loved it and how much mystery it contained. who was it exactly that brought it to my great grandmother from germany during WWI and why? we’ll never know.

i work to let go and stay grounded and let go some more and a month passes and my father is admitted to the hospital in the most frightening of circumstances and we are scrambling to make sure he is okay all while he has no idea really what is wrong and why he is there. there are phone calls to doctors and social workers and case managers and meetings and still he is no better off than he was two weeks ago and will the insurance cover this and will he ever be home again? maybe not. what does that mean? that he’ll never hold court from his favorite mid-century teak chair in the dining room. that the stack of newspapers he reads daily begins to diminish instead of growing ever higher until my mom forces him to clear them out. that his cat misses his lap as he misses her. that instead of reflecting upon his life from the cool comfort of the quiet house he redesigned, he is looking at the sterile corners of his hospital room and wearing clothing made from paper. certainly we can do better than this. certainly we haven’t lost him to his failing memory and an imperfect system of health care, both of which are full of holes. certainly this won’t be the final chapters of a complicated, fascinating, ego and kindness driven life. we are fighting with all we have to make it okay, to carve out a dignified and gracious existence. but god this country makes it difficult.

and finally, with the words dignified and gracious hanging still in the air of that last paragraph, i arrive at lucy. my brave, sweet, tender-hearted dog who brightened each of the days i was lucky enough to share with her. she fought the feistiest battle and held on longer than anyone could have imagined, almost two years from her diagnosis of cancer. she laid on the grass and watched the world of wilton street move before her. she barked at birds and passersby and skateboarding kids from the house across the street. she played and talked and snuggled with piper all from the pillow that was her home almost exclusively once her arthritis couldn’t be treated as aggressively as we wished due to her tumors. with a rousing round of barks and play time at our heels, we left the house last week for a quick dinner out and came home to lucy struggling to breathe. we calmed her and called her doctor and i laid with her and looked in to those deep brown eyes and right there, in those seconds, we said goodbye, lucy and i. from the moment she was abandoned in a parking lot at eight weeks old and we were lucky enough to get her, until spooning with her a final time, her life had been surrounded by love and she handed it all back to every person who knew her ten-fold. i am so grateful to have had her. i am so grateful she didn’t suffer. i am so grateful that she went when she was ready. we should all have a path blessed with such grace and closure.

on my table here in my studio are two pictures. One is a swirly picture of my father and i getting ready to dance at my wedding.  i am wearing a silk slip of a wedding dress and my great grandmother sara’s necklace is hanging from my neck. my wedding rings sit of course on my left hand which is folded in to my dad’s right one, and there is just the hint of a smile on my dad’s face. the other picture on my table is lucy bean on top of jaxson when she was still a pup; she used to sleep there and when we lost jaxson a decade ago she started sleeping on the end of our bed, a really bad idea. i look at the pictures and i love them more than ever even though the ideas and moments in time they represented are in large part not there anymore. yet i am okay. i have lost and am losing so much in these days and moments it seems, and though i thought without the physical reality of the objects and souls and relationships i adore surrounding me i would lose myself, i am here.

i am here with my laugh lines and my seasoned heart and my wiser soul. i am here with all i have learned from all those i have loved. i am here with a thousand shadows of a thousand doggy kisses on my cheeks, and the memory of being rocked to sleep by my father etched in to my bones, and the feeling of the symbol of my love for ricky wrapped around my finger. ashes to ashes and dust to dust, we carry every experience and sparkly moment and deepest heart pain with us. so i say thank you golden rings and silver baubles and vintage beauties for making me feel special. thank you lucy bean for showing me unconditional love. and thank you dad, for giving me the one thing i cannot lose. my sense of self.

my favorite-owenandkl