Borrowed Life

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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I’m living a borrowed life at the moment, staying for a few days with a lovely woman in her lovely home. I try to imagine what it would be like to have such a house complete with husband and grandkids, but I can’t. It’s as if I have passed some point of no return — my old settled life is truly gone and my new life as yet unimagined.

Where will I go? Will I feel as unsettled in an unsettled life as I did in a settled one? Will I be able to just let my life happen without trying to fix things or worrying over whatever imperfections I find? I do sometimes ruin things by trying to fix small flaws. For example, I wore my white t-shirt with the dance studio logo on it to the march on Saturday, and I got a small stain on it. In trying to remove that stain, I got a larger stain, and when I tried to clean that . . . Well, all I can say is I now need a new shirt for dance performances.

I try to fix small flaws in myself, too, though I am learning to let myself be. Life is messy, and it’s impossible to remove all the irritating stains that appear on the fabric of our days. The days take care of themselves anyway, disappearing one by one, and all the messiness of those days disappears too.

So much is gone from my life now, but much is still to come. I used to worry that I can’t see the shape of my future, but it doesn’t really matter. If life is unfolding as it should, the future will show itself to me as I move forward. If we create our own destinies, then I will create mine with each step I take. Either way, the future will take care of itself the same way the past did.

One day at a time.

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Sitting on the Wall

It’s hard to get anything done when I’ve spent half the day outside sitting on the wall separating my dad’s property from the one next door so that people looking at the house can have privacy, but luckily, I don’t need to get anything done. I can simply sit and enjoy the blossoms dancing in the warm winter air. (80 degrees today. And it’s still technically winter!)

It’s funny that I dreaded this period in my life when the house was on the market making my time not my own, when homelessness (or rather rootlessness) was incipient, when things were about to change in some as yet unfathomable way. But none of this is bothering me at all. In fact, other people are more concerned about what I am going to do than I am.

Either things will work out or they won’t. It’s as simple as that. And if they don’t work out, there is nothing I can do now to make them work out because I don’t know what the conditions will be at that particular time, so there’s no point in worrying about it.

My situation is apparently one that galvanizes imaginations. Each person’s suggestion for what I should do is more a response to their own yearnings and inclinations than to my needs. Buying an RV and living in an RV park was one of today’s suggestions. The woman admitted it is what she would do and thought it was a good idea for me. And yet, if I did get an RV, why would I stay in one place? The whole point of a recreation vehicle is to go recreationing.

But there are dance classes to take into consideration  . . .

I have offers of spare rooms and couches for a few days that I can accept in an emergency. Or I could stay in a motel. Or take off on a road trip. Or any number of things.

People keep telling me I have to make a decision, if not now then soon, and I just shrug off that dictum. Again, this advice is more of a response to their fearful imaginings than my reality. I don’t have to make a decision. I can simply do whatever is I feel like doing when the time comes. Knowing me, I’ll probably cry. Grief seems to rise up during times of change, because I am reminded of why I am so rootless, but even that is okay.

But for now I am enjoying sitting on the wall and letting the future take care of itself.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

In Between

I’m sitting here at the computer, playing endless games of solitaire, and dozing off. I didn’t even know it was possible to fall asleep at the computer, but I have a hunch I could fall asleep anywhere right now. The long days of caring for my father must have been more stressful and exhausting than I thought. Or maybe it’s that for the first time in more than a decade I don’t have to listen for calls of distress from the old and/or dying. There is only me in this borrowed house (borrowed from my father’s napestate pending probate and sale). There are no life or death matters to take care of, nothing major for me to accomplish (though I have a few minor obligations and things I promised to do).

During these years of caring for my father, I often blogged about my plans and possibilities for after he was gone, but at the moment, I have no desire to do anything but just float through my days, dealing with whatever comes my way. And to dance, of course.

Someday soon I’ll have to pack and put my stuff in storage in preparation for . . . I don’t know what. But now, there is no reason to do anything unless I feel like it.

I’ve always loved these in-between times. I remember as a child only being happy walking to or from school. It was a joy to leave the house in the morning, and a joy to leave school in the afternoon. But being either place didn’t particularly thrill me.

Some of the best times Jeff (my now deceased life mate/soul mate) and I had were when we packed up all our stuff, moved out of whatever house or apartment we were living, and headed across country to find a new place to live with no clear idea of where we were going. Leaving gave us such a wonderful sense of freedom that was all too soon offset by the need to find a place to live. I remember a truck stop in Utah, a motel in Iowa next to a rain puddle as big as a pond, a traveler’s oasis in Nebraska. All prosaic places that brought us a night of happiness.

And now here I am, in transition once more.

I understand now why I don’t want to settle down anywhere, why no place (except the dance studio) brings any thought of joy — being settled seems to be a sort of entrapment for me, and I am through being trapped. I suppose it’s silly to think this way — we are trapped in so many different ways — trapped in our minds, our ever-aging bodies, our society, our laws — that the secret must be to find freedom and wonderful possibilities within the entrapment.

But tonight is not a time to think of such things. It’s a time to bask in the quiet freedom, to know that these walls don’t bind my life, to feel the flutter of possibilities. And, apparently, a time to fall asleep at the computer.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.