Empty Drawers (Part I on Grief)

This isn’t how I would have liked to introduce myself. But as a reporter of life in a semi-uncensored manner, I am delving into a topic that might make you uncomfortable. It’s OK to keep reading, though. We are all uncomfortable, hanging on to this earth together, as she spins into the dark and then the light, and then the dark….

My dear cousin died this past weekend at the tender age of 31. And I am reminded viscerally of other moments of heartbreak, the ones most of us have known. There is that sense of drawers being emptied out, when the contents of your brain and heart go spilling onto the floor. You stand there perplexed at the emptiness of the drawer that was just full.

Yes, it is quite easier to physically replace contents from an actual drawer than it is to refill a broken heart or reroute a brain thrown off its network of paths. But even physically, once a drawer is empty, you suddenly realize how much old crap you have in there. Receipts from 2008, lists of classroom lesson ideas from your first semester, pictures you finally had printed of your wedding or your child and then forgot about. At that moment, you see how unorganized you are and how much unnecessary stuff you cling to, in addition to the number of valuable treasures that you do nothing with, like the broken strings of poetry strewn about on scraps of paper.

My heart and my brain are stumbling and fumbling, helplessly spinning in the dark, waiting for the dawn to emerge. But now that I am here with these life lessons, church sermon quotes, and lifelong dreams dumped into my lap in a way only death can do, I see glimmers of new truths and new light on the horizon.

In the blackness of space we must face at some point, we are given a great gift. We are even called to action, if we are listening closely. Now, is our time to reflect and reassess. I am seeing so much misused time, misused worry. Time and energy wasted by distractions from a brain clogged with traffic.

And for having the ability to see this time for what it is, a time to replenish and re-nourish, I am grateful. There is so much value in living in and through the dark.

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Empty Drawers (Part I on Grief)

  1. This brought me to tears. I’m still trying to come off the shock of what just happened, but I’m trying to focus on the good. It’s bringing some family closer together. And I’m certainly grateful for that! Much love.

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