“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott
That is one of my very favorite quotes, ever, from Anne’s book Travelling Mercies.
Today it was singing in my head, because I was confounded and amused and lifted by grace all day.
After my yoga class I headed out to Northridge, where my house had been, to the local branch of CitiBank. The branch housed, for the last 23 years, my safe deposit box. It’s held a lot of different things over the years, pink slips and passports; marriage,birth,and death certificates; house deeds and loan papers, re-fi and equity papers; copies of insurances, contracts and wills….you get the idea. All the signposts of a life. Travel, home, kid, work, life and death.
It hasn’t held anything of much importance the last few years, certainly nothing that a small fire-proof safe in my closet couldn’t handle. I kept renewing it though; I just didn’t want to let it go.
Something that you aren’t prepared for when someone dies is how they don’t just die, BAM!, and over. There is so much work to do. Years of it. And each thing you tackle is significant because death is truly a series of little deaths, a slow disappearing. So today when I went to close the safe deposit box I had to pull on my big girl panties and face that music once again. Another little death, another piece of Tom disappearing from my life. This is almost 9 years in. I still have one more big thing looming…I can’t think about that right now.
Anyway, I went to yoga first, and that was helpful. It gave me a chance to breathe into whatever kind of pain I might face, not anticipating it but preparing for it, if that makes sense. A good friend of mine’s ex-husband died 3 days ago and so I offered my practice for her, for her grief as well as mine.
When I left I called my dear friend who lives in that area to see if we could have lunch. I didn’t tell her why, anytime I am unexpectedly in the area I would call her. And I was really working to stay in the now, to not anticipate any feelings I might have, although clearly I was being led to take care of myself. By who/what? Grace, already at work.
I spent 15 minutes at the bank, retrieving what was in the box and signing some papers. When I got in my car I felt it though, that familiar tickle in the throat, tightening of the chest, and tears welled up. Another little loss. As I headed to my friends I put on some music, but instead of the channel I meant to turn on I heard…..Showtunes! I suddenly remembered that Sirius was giving me 2 free weeks for Thanksgiving, and the button I had mistakenly hit was for the “all show tunes all the time (I-am -a- big- nerd)” channel. And it was playing a song from a musical that Tom always wanted , but never was able to, produce. Grace. *Wink*
When I arrived at my friends I didn’t mention anything. I felt ok, a little shaky but ok. And not only did she feed me fabulous home-made soup but she gave me an out of the blue gift, some beautiful earrings. A present! More grace! Instead of a feeling of loss, a reminder of how much I have.
I had some essential oils for another friend, so I suggested tea and we met at a sweet little place called Rumi Cafe (yes, named after that Rumi). We talked, and again I didn’t mention the box. I felt ok. I was happy to be there with her and have a chai latte and feel the grace that comes in just being with someone you care about.
Then it was the grocery stores I needed to hit for my get-together on Saturday (it’s all done except for the cleaning, I even polished silver! TBTH!) and headed home.
I had been enjoying the show tunes all day and just as I pulled into my garage a new song started, a lovely and sad song written by Stephen Sondheim. I only heard the first few lines before the garage, which is underground, cut my radio off. It’s from A Little Night Music and begins “Every day a little death….”
I started laughing, because what else?
And that was it. There was no maudlin weeping today, no angry railing at the gods, it was just one more little thing, one more little disappearance in a long course of them. And the song capped it, reminded me that it has always been so, and will continue to be and, so. The whole day was so filled with joy and grace that a few minutes of feeling not so good was fine, because “grace meets us where we are but doesn’t leave us where it found us”, right?
Today Grace met me at the bank and deposited me, at the end of the day, happy and full of love in my new normal, accepting and so very grateful for every second of it, of all my life before and my beautiful life now.