A Lovely Day

Today was a lovely day — immensely hot, but the still air and clear blue skies made up for any discomfort from the heat. It seemed such a harbinger of summer that I considered going in search of hanging plants, but tomorrow the wind will pick up again, and I don’t relish the idea of worrying about the poor things flailing around. Nor do I want to fill the planters I have until a more benign time. With any luck, once the windy season is gone, there will be some cooler days when I could do the work. And if not, the potting soil should last a while. If worst comes to worst, and the expiration date passes, I can always spread the soil on the ground. It won’t hurt, and it might help revitalize the dirt. (Odd to think of soil having an expiration date — dirt been around since the beginning of time. But then, salt has an expiration date, as does bottled water, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise.)

I built a bookcase from a kit today. It seemed a heavy mental burden, so the kit has been sitting unopened for a week or so, but when I got down to actually building the thing, it went together nicely. I also cleared the storage boxes out of the second bedroom to make room for the bookcase. Once the garage is done, those boxes will finally find a home, but for now they are in the dining room. I’m sorting out all the storage stuff into various piles — craft and fabrics, household goods, camping equipment, office supplies, — to make it easier when it’s time to move everything onto the shelves that will be set up in the garage. I’d planned to do the moving myself, but I don’t want to take a chance on reinjuring my knee, so the contractor and his workers said they’d do it for me, and I don’t want to waste their time dithering about where things go.

Meantime, I’m enjoying the extra space in the room where I spend so much of my time. No more cave-like dwelling!

I’m not sure what to put in the bookcase. My collection of tarot cards, perhaps, which was a legacy from my deceased brother.

I started learning about those cards before I moved here, but ever since then, they’ve been packed away. If they were where I could see them, maybe I’d take up my studies again. Or not. As interesting as I find the idea, it doesn’t seem valuable from a personal standpoint since any question I would want to ask the cards will be answered on its own given enough time. Still, the history of tarot is fascinating. And oh, there’s always the I Ching and the rune stones that came with the collection if I really wanted to delve into such esoteric matters.

Meantime, I’m enjoying the empty shelves. I seem to see any sort of emptiness as a place of possibility, and once the emptiness is filled, the hint of possibility disappears.

Also, once an emptiness is filled, there seems no chance of ever unfilling it, so it’s best to keep the shelves empty as long as I can. Things (in my life, anyway) tend to stay wherever they’re put.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, I also got to see two different friends at different times, as well as chat a few moments with the worker who was here painting the garage.

Yep. A lovely day.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


11 Responses to “A Lovely Day”

  1. Estragon Says:

    Funny you should mention empty shelves. There’s a niche in my kitchen, which used to be filled with teacups given to my late wife by an aunt who ran an antique store. I suspect they meant little to either the aunt or my late wife, and I mentioned to my adult daughters that the prospect of cleaning the teacups and shelves, only to put them back, seemed daunting and pointless to me. They took a few of them, and one of my daughters mercifully took the rest of the teacups, to be disposed of in a way I really don’t care about. This left me with four empty, dirty, glass shelves in the kitchen.

    I cleaned the niche, and on the right side of the top shelf, I put a picture of my late wife and I learning to sail in the BVI some years ago. That’s history, and would still be history even if my late wife was still with me. It’s immutable. On the left, I put three miniatures of gin from a distillery her family has an interest in. The gin is produced to provide cashflow for an eventual scotch distillery. Scotch takes a minimum of ten years to mature (often longer). The gin represents what I need to be to (hopefully, eventually) mature into a decent scotch.

    Shelves get cleared eventually, whether we want them to be, or not. Salt and bottled water have expiration dates, but really never expire. We do though, and need to find our better selves before that date arrives.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, I do like that thought — our having expiration dates! And I love the metaphor of the bottles of gin. It makes me wonder if I will reach my maturity (find my better self) before my expiration date arrives. I can keep trying, though it does raise the question if we need to try or if, like a good scotch, it will happen. I wonder if whatever we are at our expiration date is the best we can do? (Just thinking aloud here.)

  2. Joe Says:

    Would it surprise you to learn my favorite Tarot card is The Hermit? 🙂

    Estragon’s remark ” We do though, and need to find our better selves before that date arrives” is exactly where I am now in life. I need to figure out whether to stay here or go elsewhere. I wonder if my expiration date for being here in this old house has passed and I’m needlessly dithering, gathering dust and taking up space meant for a family. But I still don’t know where I would even go. And so round and round I go, one day thinking “Yeah, I need to move on, this place is holding me back” or “No, it’s mine, I’ve put so much work into it and there are still some things I want to do in the yard.” Ugh, it’s annoying as hell to be so indecisive.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I understand about being indecisive. It’s hard when both decisions are right, when the two sides are evenly balanced, when one will gain and lose no matter what one decides. I found making major decisions almost impossible for many years after Jeff died. Even when I knew I had to make a decision, I simply couldn’t, so I ended up staying where I didn’t want to be a lot longer than I should have.

      I wonder if it’s our “hermit” that makes decisiveness elude us? That being alone makes it seem less imperative somehow? Well, that and not knowing where to go. It seems silly to leave when there’s no reason to be one place or another.

      In the end, the indecisiveness worked in my favor since life eventually led me to this house. Maybe things will be the same for you.

      • Joe Says:

        Thank you. Believe it or not, this actually helps a little. I have that tendency, to not uproot myself until outside forces make me do it. For example, a past job I liked well enough but also was tired of, but external events obliged me to move on to where I am now. I can see that potentially happening currently, as well. So do I leap before the door slams shut? And if so, where do I leap to? Both sides are indeed valid and I could easily end up regretting the decision, whichever road I take, or I could find new vistas opening up for growth and change. I wonder if someday there will be someone who’d want to co-create with me to revitalize this place (not to mention, as well as revitalize me!) so do I wait and see? I dunno! Easy to drive myself nuts. 🙄

        Reminds me of this lovely song from The Lumineers, called “Nobody Knows.” I listen to it often. The final chorus goes, “Nobody knows where the story ends/Live the day, do what you can/This is only where we began/Nobody knows how the story ends.” The folk band National Park Radio did a great cover of it, and both are on YouTube. I just love the song.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          As it turned out, making the decision to move here was easy — I had nothing to lose, and whether I stayed where I was, took that year-long trip, or bought the house, I’d still end up broke. At least this way, I have something. And there was nothing left for me where I was. Luckily, the impetus for the move came from outside me, which made a difference, otherwise, I’d still be dithering.

          I can see your problem — there are too many factors to juggle. It’s not a simple either or question. It also seems like this is a terrible time to make any decision with so many things, especially in your area, up in the air. Maybe something you can’t even imagine will come from it all.

          And yes, the revitalizing ourselves is the big thing. What’s it been for you? A little more than three years? Big changes, such as revitalization and renewal, for grievers often come during the fourth year.

          Best of luck whatever you decide.

          As for the song. It made me cry. And made me realize that perhaps I’m not as sanguine about Jeff being gone as I thought I was.

          • Joe Says:

            I understand, it makes me cry also. It’s clearly written by someone who understands loss. “Love is deep as the road is long” always gets to me.

            You’re right, there are simply too many factors. it’s been just over 3 years, so I may be right on schedule. 🙂 I’m trying to adopt a wu wei attitude which comes from Taoism. In other words, not forcing but letting things flow, unfold in their time. It’s a direct contradiction to the usual way of doing things in the US where we are exhorted to always strive, do, act, run the race, win the prize, etc.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            To be honest, I think you’re right to let things flow. A friend who lost her life mate a couple of months after I did used a line from the Desiderata as her email signature. “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Even though I don’t necessarily believe it, every time I saw it, it gave me great comfort.

            I think it’s important from another standpoint — for years after the loss, our brains scurry around trying to find a way out. Sometimes the need to make a decision as well as the indecision are part of the grief stress, a last fight or flight reaction to the adrenaline before the brain settles into a new pattern and calms down.

            3 1/2 to 4 years is a significant time with grief. Most of us see a change in our attitude and even our lives. That’s when I started taking dance classes, which made a huge difference. Until that time, nothing I did rippled. I could be content enough in the moment, such as if I were at a museum. or taking a day trip or anything, really, but as soon as the activity ended, it was as if it had never happened. After three and a half years, I started feeling ripples that extended past the class.

            Maybe it will be the same with you., though sometimes it takes into the fifth year. Three to five years is the span. I first noticed this after Jeff died when so many people on Facebook and elsewhere who were years ahead of me would say that they woke up on the fourth anniversary to a feeling of peace and renewal. As I and my grief age group (people who lost their mates around the time Jeff died) neared the time, the pattern became even more obvious.

            Stay well!

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I have my own Tarot deck that I consult every now and then. It’s proved weirdly accurate at times.

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