Verbalizing the ineffable experience of a variety of emotions

I’ve been through quite a lot during this last year… starting with that call just after midnight… with the worst news of my life and the sound of my wife’s deep sobbing mixing with the sound of my own.

There has been steps and healing. As a family, we laugh a lot. We speak to each other… not in hushed, careful tones but in our normal cadences and patterns. We are all back at work. We eat and talk. We make the worst jokes about Ethan’s death… or his ashes… There are good days filled with activities and friends and peaceful dinners with family and winter sunsets that still will steal my breath away. Life really has somehow returned to this “normal”… and I would have to say that it is for the most part, good.

And then there are bad days. Days when everything seems to take more effort. I might wake up in a bad mood and simply be irritable… or want to spend the rest of the day on the couch. Days when tears seem waiting for the right song, or the right phrase… And sometimes in the middle of an otherwise good day, there are moments that come out of nowhere… or those surprise bits of time, when you catch a glimpse of someone who looks like Ethan in a crowd, or the cashier simply sounded like him, or you see a red jeep driven by a guy in a camo hat and a red shirt. There are moments when I can cry for no reason. There are times when I seem to suddenly go numb. There comes a time every so often when I seem to run out of energy, and I feel more exhausted than overwhelmed.
And there are a good number of people who greet me through the day, or who encounter me after not seeing me for a while, and will ask with just a little more serious than usual, how I am.

“Fine”… “Okay… really.” I say after a short pause.

… or “Good. I’ve been better… but I think I’m good.”

If you ask me how I am… and I know that you are someone who actually cares- I might pause and make a quick assessment. And it is a strange exercise to pick through the complex jumble of intense emotions and try to find the right words… with the right connotations- and you realize, how many vague cliches and well used, but somewhat empty terms in regards to issues of the soul… in the naming of emotion… sadness, and grief stricken, and bereft, and angry… even numbness. We seem to lack that preciseness of vocabulary for that we have for every other human experience in the English language…

I tried poetry and painting and in some ways… it makes more sense to me. Poetry rather than prose. Composition and color rather than words. And Monday during yoga, Andrea was playing some Native American flute music through speakers connected to her phone while we stretched… and one particular piece was in seven four, with some light rhythmic percussion and a guitar playing an arpeggio, alternating between major and minor. The oddness of the meter, with the weaving in and out of notes and intervals and the rich tones of the flute carrying a haunting and seemingly ancient melody. For the moment, as I lay on the floor searching out tension and stress points in my body it became both a prayer to God and a statement of worship… and for that moment, everything was perfect.


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