“The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey of which we do not know the final destination. Thus, writing requires a great act of trust. We have to say to ourselves, “I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write.” Henri Nouwen
This quote by my good friend and spiritual director, Henri Nouwen (no, I never met him in person, but he has been ministering to me for years through this writings) gives me permission to sit down and start writing this week’s blog post, even though I have no idea what I am going to write about. I love the idea that the act of writing opens up new spaces within us; spaces we had no idea existed before the writing unveils them. Such a mystery!
I cried off and on all weekend. I miss Joel. I miss him most on weekends, as Saturdays and Sundays were the days we spent the most time together. His weeks were busy with work and evening activities with Mohamed, his good friend and one-on-one staff. But Saturday and Sunday mornings were ours, as were Saturday and Sunday nights. That rhythm, of being pulled out of bed by the sound of Joel’s music (always turned up full blast), drinking my coffee and reading the paper while he looked at his picture books, getting him dressed, fixing his breakfast and his meds, and sending him off to the hardware store or horseback riding lessons with his dad, has not yet been replaced. Will never be replaced, really. Weekend evenings of concerts in the park, visiting friends or cousins, driving through Parky’s Farm to count the rabbits, look for deer, and watch the sunset, no longer hold the magic of trying to fill the hours to Joel’s satisfaction.
Funny, how those rhythms, though so simple, seep into your blood and bones until they are a part of you, just like waking up with the sun and going to bed in the dark. I didn’t count on it being so hard. I feel as if the very fabric of my life has been torn.
Joel’s absence has opened up a new space within me. A space I wasn’t aware of before he left. It’s a space that he carved out, with his very presence. A space where I learned to be a caregiver. Where I learned what unconditional love is all about. Where simple routines like driving through the park counting bunny rabbits became a staple of my life, like bread or water or wine. He carved out a space where I called to God, over and over, for help in dealing with his behaviors. A space that gradually filled with God’s life-giving waters.
That space feels very empty today.
All I can do is pray. And wait. And know that new spaces will open up with new prayers and ideas and activities and people to fill them. But Joel’s space will always be Joel’s space. Like his bedroom, clean and tidy and waiting; waiting for his next visit home.