Learning how to Be

 

IMG_3391.JPGThis past year has been the hardest of my life.  There was the long march of cancer that ultimately took us to Doug’s death.  A journey that was both painful and incredibly sweet as we intimately navigated it together with our family and friends.  It was also a year of difficulty for each one of our children.  It as though we had each made a list of the most difficult challenges of our lifetime and then unbeknownst to us we had somehow signed up to tackle one of our greatest fears, all while losing  our beloved husband and father ..a foundation to all of us.

I have watched myself as I flounder with who I am in this chapter of my life.  All the usual qualities  of who I think myself to be seem to be are less accessible.   It is as though I was a strong independent  character in a book and somehow I woke up in a different story.  I find myself saying, “I don’t want this to be my life”… There is this feeling that somehow I was given a storyline that was not my own.  In my story a healthy loving husband doesn’t die to some rare cancer and our children go through these life challenges. In my story I am strong and resilient and see light coming through the clouds.
But,, Here I am.  In the weeks after Doug’s death I still had this confidence of knowing what to do.  With cancer there was always a next thing to do…Learning about the cancer..planning the treatments.. making him comfortable.. planning a death.  I was this strong woman that could make it happen..even remodeling and moving us to a new house in the midst.
But who is this woman now?  I stepped into this new chapter with this attitude that I would create a new life..  I would learn to be happy without a partner.. I would be a thriving artist… loving grandmother..  I would meditate and inquire and find new depths of understanding and spiritual wisdom… Instead I find myself here.  It can be hard to climb out of bed on these gray winter days and my artistic ambitions have been lost in the haze.  I feel fragile and uncertain.. I  get confused and wander about the house looking for something that I later realize is a sense of my old life.. the old me.
I have struggled with this person I am right now.  The one that leans more heavily on her children and friends and cries so easily. I have found myself sometimes criticizing this new me.. Sort of a “get it together” judgement as though I can shame this fragile part away.  I still have my list of doings.. remodeling my house and getting the old one ready to sell but they don’t have the same satisfaction and don’t support the same egoic structures.   I realize that it isn’t for me to  find another “doing” to get through this.
I think this moment is about having compassion for all the parts of myself and paying attention to all that is unfolding. I dreamed that I was walking on a path through the sky.  Suddenly the trail ended and I stepped out into thin air.  I was suspended..not falling.. just holding on to a small handrail.   I am here without the foothold I have always known.
I am here just learning how to Be.

31 thoughts on “Learning how to Be

  1. Walker, what an honest and beautiful description of where you are. May the wisdom you gain from this part of the journey – albeit unwanted – serve you and all those around you in the days to come. I think of you daily and hold you in love and compassion.

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  2. Thank you for continuing to report on your life after the death of your husband. I enjoy reading your entries and feel their depth.
    Lowell

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  3. Thank you sending this out Walker. I could feel your story though your honesty, the inside and outside of you. See you in the coming retreats. Love – Pat

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  4. Walker: Thank you… for so poignantly sharing your journey through grief and transition. I love the image of stepping out and having a small handrail. There is no timeline here; there’s no rule book except the one you’re creating step by step, breath by breath. You may not always hear from us, AND we think of you and Doug more than you could ever know. With love and tears… Joy

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  5. Our dear Walker,

    Your perfectly eloquent and raw unveiling of this most difficult part of your life journey will undoubtedly touch the heartstrings of anyone who reads it. It represents the trials of a lifetime, unfortunately condensed to a timeframe designed to test the most valiant of souls. We have all known you to be the strong one, the wise one, the person with a calm approach and rational answers to everything. To be able to better understand your struggle, as you make your way through this maze of uncertainty, gives us a chance to offer our love and support to you. Just ‘learning to Be’ is what we are all charged with as we go through life; you are just better at recognizing and encapsulating the process. It’s up to us to help each other through and, hopefully, over these huge hurdles. Now it’s our turn to fully embrace you.

    We love you,
    Karen & Roger

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    1. Thank you Karen, I do feel embraced by my family and friends. I also know that you have a sense of this territory having lost so many of your loved ones in a much too short timeframe. I feel very blessed to have the family I have and know that I can call on you and Roger in a heart beat… hugs to my married in sister.. Walker

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  6. Dear Walker. I do not know you and your authenticity and your generosity to share yourself touch my heart and push me to go through this life journey with more awareness an d more strength. Thank you 🙂

    A big hug from Mexico 🙂

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  7. Walker
    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you navigate this land of grief without a compass or map. I have deep sympathy and deep empathy for your feelings of loss and loneliness.
    Sending you a hug and hope for a new day of hope and light — tomorrow.

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  8. Thank you Walker for being so courageous and vulnerable. You are an inspiration to me. Continued prayers as you navigate through this new phase of your journey. It will get clearer in time…

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  9. Dear Walker – Someone said above that you are in our thoughts and prayers more often than we tell you. It’s true. You are on my mind most days. May you feel the luvuh vibes from afar, and let them hold you while you explore thin air.

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  10. Thank you Walker for sharing this such in depth communication with us. You continue to bless us with your bone honest feelings about your life and how you are seeing and handling it. Keep loving yourself…even cradling yourself at your fragile tender moments, and your friends and family will hopefully help you to see that your response to all that is happening to you gives us cause for important reflections.

    I won’t be at WIT meetings the next 2 meetings, but I always feel a meaningful connection after leaving our sessions…that we know a little more about each other and living when we leave our meeting.

    Blessings a peace as you take each step Nita

    On Sat, Mar 9, 2019 at 2:28 PM Let Life Live Through You wrote:

    > Walker Silsbee posted: ” This past year has been the hardest of my life. > There was the long march of cancer that ultimately took us to Doug’s > death. A journey that was both painful and incredibly sweet as we > intimately navigated it together with our family and friends. ” >

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  11. Your honesty is a gift to all of us, Walker. I ache as I read, and I ache when thinking of you trying to find your footing. If anyone can do it, it is you. Sending love and hope, Martha

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  12. Aunt Walker, your words are so beautiful and so descriptive that I can almost feel your pain. I’m sure I’m not the only person that reads this that would take away that pain if we could. I know you will somehow get through this, in time. We are sending you our love.
    Lisa and Mike

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    1. Thank you LIsa.. It is so helpful to know our loving family is out there even when we dont see each other much..hugs

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  13. Dear Walker, I love your heart dearly. Strong parts, fragile parts, rooted parts and suspended. I hear you describing foggy and footless passages of grief. I also hear words that bring to mind the Dark Night of the Soul…a mystics journey…for you and your grown kids…each facing a worst fear. 🙏🏼

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  14. Dear Walker — The visual of stepping into the mist and finding your handrail, suspended there, fills me with both awe and compassion — there is help and support available to you, but I’m guessing it seems woefully inadequate to the enormous task ahead. You are one of three women in my life navigating the unthinkable after the death of a beloved husband. You have described so eloquently the haze, the fragility, the confusion. May your confidence in the strength of the handrail grow as you need it to, and may you continue to be gentle with yourself along the path.
    In the Light, Barbara

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  15. Now that’s the part I am coming to understand after a great loss. There is so much more. You describe the death of your old self and that resonates so much with me that it brings tears. I had always envisioned this part of my life filled with clay projects, travel, carrying my grandkids around and enjoying physical health. Your experience helps me feel understood and not alone. Thank you!

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  16. OH, Walker, what is there to say other than I love you. Thank you for sharing you in such a poignant and beautiful way………

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  17. Thank you for your honest words. I am struck by the realness and how relatable your words on “shaming the fragile parts of me away”. I am always grateful AND LEARNING from your sharing such intimacy with us. Much love to you and your family as you use the “handrails”

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  18. Dear Walker, Thank you for continuing to share the pain and challenge of such a massive transition in your and your family’s life. As a blessed student of Doug’s, I feel his presence literally every day – his life lives through us indeed! And of course he most certainly lives through you and with you in so many ways – so thank you for helping us to learn from your experiences in such profound way. Please contact me if you’re at all interested in a program I and other of Doug’s friends locally have created for people in this phase of life, who are feeling confused about direction and finding purpose for the next – hopefully – 20-30 years. roxi@theencoreprogram.com or rbh9@cornell.edu or even if you just want to talk. I know we only met once at Doug’s celebration of life – but I feel your heart through your words and would love to be helpful to you in any way I can. With grace and love, Roxi Hewertson

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  19. Walker – I always learn so much from your posts, and appreciate your honesty and your courage. I think about Doug often; his face and his voice are there with such clarity. I have wanted to send you an email or a card, but don’t have your contact information – would love it if you can send it.
    Big hugs – Martha

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  20. In gratitude to you Walker. The self-compassion and love of which you so eloquently describe is everything, especially when we are deeply uncertain, lost and vulnerable.
    You will slowly find your compass, as it is perhaps floating in the thin air of this current journey, barely visible. Yet it is there.
    I am deeply moved by your honesty and courage to share this moment.
    Never doubt that you are surrounded by all of us in love and compassion.
    Micah

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  21. Thank you for sharing yourself here and to the world, Walker.

    When I read about the “feeling that somehow I was given a storyline that was not my own” and of the path through the sky which lead you to step “out into thin air”, I am come into contact with my own sense of uncertainty and a sense of how life has not turned out the way I envisioned it.

    I too find myself lacking the energy and motivation to get out of bed some days. And it was only this morning that I felt a calling to submit to the holding quality of ‘surrender’.

    Yet ‘surrender’ does not feel passive to me. It has a quality of deep and unquestioning acceptance. I notice the courage inside it as it moves me through this day and through getting on with the next thing with softness.

    Warmest wishes,
    Baljit

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  22. Thank you all for your kind comments and support. Along side the difficulty of grief is also humor and gratefulness at the amazing life I have led..before Doug and with Doug. Even as I write this I realize with a chuckle that now there is another meaning for me with A.D. So, Yes, After Doug I am finding my way and I share in part because it helps me to share and also to talk about grief publicly. I understand now that each of us experiences grief in our own way and in our own time. I hope that this journey I share will help others with their own grief and also help all of us to be a little more understanding of another’s grief..

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  23. Dear Walker
    This was a very moving and candid account of your current state of mind. Grief is a brutal companion. I trust that with your family you will all overcome it. You seem so wise and strong. I learned about you through the blog of Jennifer Garvey Berger who was such a close friend of your husband and so often communicated with him through his disease. She admired the two of you for your grace, strength and resilience. Now is the time to let close friends like her help you. More than at any other time you need their help and constant attention. I don’t know you but I am sure you are surrounded by many attentive friends. May they all help you through this tough phase you are going through. I don’t know you but was so moved by your posts. You are terrific.

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