Fishing For Life

Today is the 3 and 1/6-year anniversary of my life mate/soul mate’s death, and I’m still sad, still missing the spark to get my life going again. For thirty-four years, he was my spark — everything was so much more vibrant when he was in my life — and without something to spark my interest again, my life will continue to feel sad and flat.

A few days ago, in Dreaming My Life into Being, I wrote about my plans to go fishing for life. Well, today, I went. (The second part of that plan was to turn off my computer for a day, and as you can see, I didn’t do that, but following through on half a plan is better than doing nothing, right?)

Today’s fishing trip wasn’t a major journey by any means, just a long hike through the desert on a quest to find the trail to the top of Bell Mountain. I’d climbed halfway one day, but gave up when the trail petered out to 60-degree angle. There is no way I could have climbed that sort of slope with only my tennis shoe-clad feet and bare hands — who am I trying to kid;  there is no way I could ever have climbed that slope — so I turned around and came back. (Slid down halfway, I’m sure, though I don’t remember. It was in the midst of the worst of my grief, and there are blank spots of pain in my memory.)

Bell Mountain

Bell Mountain

I’d recently read online that there is a trail to the top, though it’s on the other side of the mountain, so my quest today was to make my way to the other side and find the trail. Again, I had to turn back. I’d walked for two hours, and perhaps another two hours would have taken me around to the trailhead, but then, I’d have been too exhausted to make my way back. So once again, the mountain defeated me.

The way back.

The way back.

Just because one goes on a fishing trip doesn’t mean you’ll get what you went for, but still, it was a lovely day in the sun with just enough wind to keep me from dying of the heat. So I did catch something — a bit of life.

I also caught a thought. We talk about life being a journey, but it’s always a forward motion or maybe even sideways. No matter how far we go, we continue on from there. Unlike other physical journeys, such as a hike, we don’t have to return to home base. So we can give it all we have without needing to keep anything in reserve for the return trip.

I hope I remember that when next I feel as if I can’t continue my life’s journey.


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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Growing into the Woman I Am to Become

In a previous post, Maiden/Mother/Crone — The Mythic Stages of a Woman’s Life, I talked about living my mother stage first. I was the oldest girl in a large family, and by the time I was five, I could cook simple meals, clean house, do laundry, feed babies their bottles, and change diapers. By the time I was eighteen, I’d changed more diapers than most women do in a lifetime.  Then, in my middle years, I reached the crone stage. Crones care for the dying and are spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. A few years after I met the man with whom I would spend the middle third of my life, his health took a turn for the worse. I wasn’t much of a healer, but I was a stayer — I stayed with him until he died. I also helped out when my mother died. I’m now staying with my 95-year-old father, helping him to be as independent as he can be during his final years.

When this part of my life’s journey, this crone stage, has played itself out, the only stage left for me is maidenhood. According to Lisa Levart, author of Goddess on Earth, the maiden aspect of the Goddess is symbolic of new beginnings, youthful enthusiasm, independence, and a time when a girl is growing into the woman she is to become.

Who is this woman I will become? I already know she will be patient. I know she will be forward-looking, leaving all her “if only”s behind. I hope she will be bold and adventurous, able to embrace new beginnings, youthful enthusiasm, and independence. Most of all, I hope she will be spontaneous.

Life with someone who is chronically ill destroys your spontaneity. You have to be practical, and you have to plan, taking his limitations into consideration.  You can try to take time for yourself, but so often the constraints of his illness rule your life.

Two or three years before my life mate/soul mate died, he told me he regretted that he killed my spontaneity. He loved that I had been so spontaneous, and it saddened him that I became captive of the regimens he needed to follow to keep himself as healthy as possible. This declaration surprised me because I had never considered myself particularly spontaneous. To be honest, before I met him, I’d always been a bit careful — not timid, but not carefree, either. Meeting him brought such a surge of energy into my life (he was radiant, back then, glowing with health and happiness) that I felt emboldened to try new things. I’d never seen the point of life (though I spent my youth searching for meaning), and I never really felt comfortable in the world. After I met him, I thought that if he were in the world, it must be a wondrous place. (This was before we ever got together, before either of us realized there was an “us.”) His radiance, faded and ragged though it may have been at the end, still lit my life, and now that he is dead, so is the light. And once again I’m searching for meaning.

To honor him and the life we shared (and to honor myself), I plan to be more spontaneous. (Did you smile at that wording? So did I. Old habits are hard to break.)

Spontaneous, bold, adventurous, enthusiastic, and independent. I can hardly wait to grow into this woman I intend to become. (But what will become of that woman I become? Will she be too old to make a difference? Ah, but those are questions for another day.)