The deep desire to magically leave the earth led me into fantasy. Piece by piece the pictures, senses, and story grew. First came the lights, two of them, blurred together in brightness. Then the sounds. Heavy metal, rubber, and brakes shrieking over concrete.
The image of me in its path came later.
While driving I would at times drift to the vision of the truck and while tripping in my imagination I would see myself turning the wheel, a sharp pull to the right and in a flash, I would meet the truck. It was not that I wanted to die, my wish was to be with my son, Sage. I desired to slip through from living, to not living, as he had, so I could seek him and feel put together again. I knew I would never turn to meet the truck but my mind craved the opportunity and the twisted tale of the truck became a story my mind replayed.
A day in anger and loss, just before leaving for my first silent retreat I met with my friend Thomas. Not immediately but in time the confession came. I felt safe to tell and I knew I needed to. In the telling, it transformed from a fantasy to a known story that seeped into the soil of the earth and grounded in reality. Once told it would either come true or vanish.
Thomas listened without interruption and heard the fullness of my fantasy death. He listened and then gently asked; “But Debra, what about the driver?” And with that, the fantasy shattered and my full conscious self returned.
I had never thought of the driver. With this simple prompt, I saw myself not as an isolated being in grief but as a member of a never-ending web. Every drop a ripple and a shake that can call a storm or silence.
Days later I left for my first silent solo retreat and to a long conversation with angels and the contemplation of my place in the web. I spent twelve days alone in a town unknown to me. Each day was different but they all involved writing, running, meditating and seeking the answer to why Sage had left and why I must stay.
I drove away from my days in silence with a new relationship with angels, Sage, and with no clear answer as to why I needed to stay other than there was work to do. The sun had begun to melt into the horizon. The long stretch of road was empty. I curled around a bend to be met by the sharp lights of a truck. Shocked I swerved the car. I was headed toward the mountain. I swerved again. I was now in front of the truck. One last swerve saved my life as I screeched past the truck screaming with my hand on the horn.
Moments later, while catching my breath and gripping the steering wheel, I realized I had met the truck I had been dreaming of. Rather than allowing it to crush me, I chose to save my own life.
I was earthbound and alive.
My wish to die did not disappear that day but it was now balanced by my shift away from the truck fantasy. As the early years passed I often returned to my desire to die. It transformed and new fantasies were crafted, ones that were no one's fault, the freak moments in life that steal the breath and heartbeat of a person. I kept them all a secret.
When I moved to New York City I found myself in a new relationship to traffic. I was no longer the driver, I was the pedestrian. In busy Manhattan Avenues, rushed New Yorkers’ walk out beyond the curb in their haste to cross the street. I quickly blended into the rhythm of the foot traffic. As my grief was raw in the early days of New York my wish to magically die was given new breath. While out walking I would without looking, step out into traffic. I began to play a game of chance. Thoughts of the driver conveniently forgotten.
It was only when the fantasy became possible did I again confess. Each confession was a step toward staying alive and earthbound. Beyond the confession were therapy sessions and a return to my commitment to daily spiritual practice. The desire turned down in volume to a low ebb of thought that screeched out loud on an odd day that grief was in force.
This year I chose to again go into silent retreat. I spent ten days in silence, with day six being the 5th death day anniversary of my son, Sage. In the silence, I spent time with my knowings of grief and death, and I sat with the pockets of hurt that needed healing. My wish to die by magic had diminished and lay under cold coals, mostly ignored by me. One stoke of the coals revealed the embers that lay under the cold grey debris. I have always been mystified with how long it takes a burning fire to cool and be forever ash. The desire to die had not been felt for a long time but upon discovery, I found that it lay just under the surface. I was holding on to the desire by a fine thread, just in case my grief needed the fantasy.
It was in meditation that I made a new commitment and began crafting a way forward down a new road. I decided that in order to survive and then thrive in the years I had left in earth time without Sage, I needed to release and extinguish the death desire. I promised myself that I would place my focus on being alive and earthbound and creating a life that could be joyous without Sage. I balanced my grief with the potential of an open heart. I was choosing to live a big life.
That promise was made in April and I now see in the last days of December, as this year winds down, the gifts my promise has offered. I am now stepping into that big life, with new purpose and dedication to my work with grief, and to helping others to ease their ouch, to writing and teaching, and to allowing myself to be loved by another.
A deeper acceptance of death has bought me back to life. And now there is new magic possible in the realm of earthbound and alive. I am open to the possibility of being pleasantly surprised.
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