Strange days, here we come!
It’s interesting how life has this way of throwing things at us that we are not ready for.
Last July I had to fly back to France – an emergency with my parents, during which and quite unexpectedly, I had to find a retirement home for them. On my last day, I went to see them in their “new” home then went back to their “old”, now empty home with a heavy heart, proceeded to empty the fridge, clean out the kitchen, and pack up. That was it. I closed the door to the place I had grown up in through good and bad times, the place where my daughters and I had shared so many sweet moments with Mum and Dad, the place that had become a safe-haven in my later adult years – now all gone.
I was adamant that my job was done, that my siblings would take care of the next step: the daunting task of emptying the apartment and so I came back to Sydney. The days, weeks, months went by, and still I remained haunted by visions of this now soul-less apartment that looked liked its occupants were about to come back from their weekly shopping.
I felt my job was not finished – I hadn’t spent the time to say a proper goodbye to my past and close this chapter of my life.
So, I decided to go back to Paris and begin the process of emptying Mum and Dad’s apartment, with or without help. It was also a good opportunity to spend some time with them again now that they had settled in. Bag after bag of clothes, books, china, silverware, cutlery – it all went away. I discovered my parent’s passion for mobile phones (I think we found fourteen of them!) and boxes of old pictures. Some from the late fifties all the way through the early 2000’s. It was strange seeing these pictures of my parents when they met in 1954. I chose the ones I wanted to take with me and let go of the rest. It was difficult. I didn’t want to bring home so much emotional baggage that would make it difficult to move on, but at the same time, I wanted to keep enough of them so the girls would have memories of their grandparents and their life.
You see, when possible, I prefer to take my time and make sure I am aware of what is going on inside me – aware of feelings to avoid them lurking out in some dark corner of my mind only to show up later as depressive states of mind, illness, or who knows what else.
But this time, time was the one thing I did not have. I had a three-week ‘deadline’ to get everything done and back to Sydney. And BOOM!
Before I realised what was happening I was on the plane, so tired and confused! In Abu Dhabi, I thought my connecting flight was to Paris, and realised just on time I was heading back to Sydney. Twenty-four hours may seem like a long time but it’s really very short.
Too short to give my mind the time it needs to process the events that just occurred and the irreversible changes they have brought to my life: the fact that I now no longer have this safe-haven to go to; I will no longer hear the familiar squeak of the front door opening, or the sound of my Dad’s closet when he opened it every night to get his clothes for the next day; I will no longer see the sunrise over the majestic pine tree from the balcony, or eat crepes at Leclerc for afternoon tea with Mum and Dad…
Instead I am made to pick up from where I left: school drop offs and pick ups, the logistics of family, teaching yoga, writing this blog… My body is here, and I am incredibly happy to be back with my family, but when the girls are not around my mind is only 30% here. My work is not yet done. The processing of it all is happening now, and each day is getting better.
Life and nine years of yoga have taught me that you need to let go of the past to make space for new experiences. Easier said than done, right? I just notice my feelings come and go, I notice Mr. Sadness getting weaker and making fewer appearances everyday. Slowly, but surely, sadness is replaced by acceptance of what I cannot change: going through events like this at this stage of my life.
I remind myself that things, people, events, are not intrinsically good or bad. They just are.