Just the Beginning

It’s probably no surprise to most of you, but I am not a church-goer. Nor do I proclaim myself to be any particular religion. I could say it all began when a friend of mine died in college, and this would be true. But that was just the beginning of my questioning, my awakening to other possibilities.

My 23-year-old friend had died in a freak accident while on a dream vacation. Dream vacation. One he had planned for and talked about for probably months. So it goes, I suppose. I am beginning to feel that life is neither good or bad. Stuff just happens to both good and bad people. Tragic stuff.

I have been reliving the unfairness of a young person dying with their whole life ahead of them during the past few months since my cousin’s death. The shock still has not gone away on this one, and I am realizing that my grief is going to be more of a slow leak than a tidal wave. And that’s OK.

We sometimes move on quicker than we feel we should after someone dies anyway. I had this discussion with a dear friend who recently lost her sister. She was almost feeling guilty that after a couple of months she was not “steeped” in grief anymore, which I thought was such a perfect way to describe it. A look of relief had overcome her in this moment, and yet the relief was complicated and painful. Or so it seemed from my seat next to hers.

I had not intended on starting out this way at this late hour. However, I recently submitted a piece of writing that I have worked on all summer. It’s a creative nonfiction piece about my evolution with religion, Jesus, God, and so on. Ironically, I pray to Jesus, and I talk to God quite regularly. My life has had too many happy coincidences for me to disregard that a higher presence is out of the question. But I still like to remain open. I have chosen a life of believing in right and living justly and honestly, and this is the only religion that makes sense to me since it demands equality and humility.

But I am not sure it is so easy to sum up. I have had a number of experiences that make me sound like an insane person when I try to tell them. Let’s just say I have felt and seen things that logically don’t add up. That sound like someone’s mushroom trip instead of reality. Like the fireworks going off inside the lightning storm I witnessed tonight – surreal and otherworldly. Impossible and unexpected. Especially when it’s not even the Fourth of July.

I have so much more to say about recent events – on moving, on finding stillness. On letting go. On rediscovering old friends and family. But this is the end of my quiet sermon. Thankfully, others will come.

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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.

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