The wind is scattering hundreds of little yellow Palo Verde flowers across the cement porch where I sit. I am holding a pot of dirt and the remnants of an orchid my Grandma gave me. It wasn’t an especially precious flower or rare, but after she died the flower took on new meaning. It was something which had been hers, which she gave attention to, that I still had. I’ve carefully cared for her little orchid with bright pink flowers until a few weeks ago, I noticed the leaves beginning to wilt and turn brown. Now I’m sitting here in my backyard preparing myself to let it go back to the earth from which it came.
A few months have passed since I completed the manuscript about self-care. Almost directly after I let it go into my editor’s hands, thing after thing surfaced in my life ready, asking to be let go. Long time relationships, favorite clothes, life paths, big life stuff and small, thrust me into processing their readiness to shift out of my life. Realizing there is no longer any way to mend things, alter or force what I want, I surrender to a state of grief.
Grief feels scary and sticky, like it will suck me down into something I can’t escape. I sit with the orchid outside in the backyard. Gently, I pour out the soil, pull apart the roots and ask the attention my grandmother gave to this plant to stay and continue to witness. All I can do is ask.
Venting my frustration with all this life transition to a friend, she tells me, “Don’t try harder, resist less.” I can’t absorb her words. Instead, I tell her again how hard I’ve worked at maintaining the relationships and the effort I’ve put into sorting through my own stuff. How despite all of this work, things are shifting anyways. When I hang up the phone, I’m feeling annoyed with her advice until I realize that “resisting less,” to me, means acknowledging the truth of all of this change. It’s the acknowledgment where I know for sure the pain lies. Yet, even in all of my effort to avoid this pain, I find I’m in discomfort now, a subtle kind of pain which is numbing and consuming enormous amounts of energy. Resist less…
Unable to avoid the exodus taking place in my life, I finally give in. The hardest part of grieving for me is acknowledging that despite my best efforts, the time has come where I have to stop resisting the truth. Some things need to be let go.
I began acknowledging by writing each person/thing a letter. I write to my relationships that I am sad they are changing. I write the manuscript I’ve just completed a letter telling it I am so bummed our journey together is concluding. I write activism a letter about how much I value it and yet, how I will continue to relate to it, is changing. With each letter, is an acknowledgment. An ability for the first time to say it all out loud, to say it all at once.
Grandfather Sun sets behind the houses and desert cacti. Grandmother Moon who is waiting just on the horizon brightens into her full force.
Sitting outside at night, I’ve been watching the phases of Grandmother Moon. I give her updates on this process of grief and transformation. I tell the nopales which sit by the fence how I’m grieving. I feel the cacti, I feel Grandmother Moon, listening. I feel now the joining of my Grandmother’s witnessing as I describe each new step in slowly trying to resist less and let go.