I stopped attending art openings. I took up lifting a kettlebell, staying inside instead of going out to the gym. I was unsure how long before it would be over and whether life would ever be the same again.
It wasn’t a winter with coronavirus. It was the last winter of many winters of John living with cancer. Ten years ago, the rooms of tea parties with macarons and brunches with bubbly became a home hospice and I became the gracious hostess greeting guests arriving to say their goodbyes.
The same sofa to which John trekked to and from each day from our bed—proving to himself and the world he wasn’t quite ready to leave— became a place of rest again this winter after my son Benjamin had two limbs crushed in a head on crash. The walker, the pillows, the next round of meds. It felt familiar.
This week I received word that I have fulfilled the requirements of a certified end-of-life doula. Like a birth doula, those who serve as support to the dying give comfort and companionship. Just weeks before Ben’s accident I’d committed to the University of Vermont program to study and practice how to be present when time is precious.
In the decade between these seasons there have been many endings. John’s death nine months after the doctor visits ended. Children moving farther away to even bigger cities. There were big beginnings, too. The law firm starting to grow to twice its size and impact on people’s lives. An introduction that led to unimaginable love finding its way into my heart with a man I never knew existed.
Someone recently referred to me as “always calm”. The description surprised me as my excitable energy has often been a source of embarrassment for myself and others when the words, the dance, or the hug came out more quickly than was either expected or appropriate. My winters of slowing down to the pace of another and being present served me well.
Still, I am on the cusp of spring. As winter comes to a close this weekend, my sweetheart will get his second vaccination and Ben will take some steps outdoors with his walker. I will watch the redbud trees obsessively for signs of their first blooms opening and dance at every opportunity.
Winters end and springs begin. Everything is impermanent.
What did you learn from a past season that serves you today?
What might be beginning for you, even as you experience endings?
What do you hold precious today?