It’s My Heart

I haven’t felt as blocked and listless about writing – which is to say, about living – since I started this blog. I’ve been writing a post for a week, and I’ve got the bones of it. That’s usually when it starts clicking, when the writing starts writing itself. But the writing can’t “write itself” if I don’t show up for it. And I can’t seem to do that.

Ed moved. For the twenty year’s I’ve know him, Ed’s lived in Bloomfield, and ironically enough, when I moved last August, I moved close to him, close like a good, long walk away. But he and his wife had enough of working their house. They left it a buyer’s dream. I’m happy for them, that it sold quickly; but that house had been my sanctuary when Philip died. I spent days and nights with Ed and his wife, waking up early to go home and walk the dogs, returning a couple hours later to the only place I felt safe. Now they’ve moved to Florida, where they’ll stay for a year before coming back to buy a second home in New Jersey – something smaller than their last, something farther west, something that at least will be driving distance away.

So it’s not that “bad,” if you will. I can fly to Florida to visit, then they’ll be back before I know it. And If I’ve learned nothing else from Philip, it’s that when someone’s in your heart they’re with you always – you just have to accept it the way it is, not the way you want it to be. I keep saying that every change is practice for death. The practice is the leap into the unknown, the risk of not resisting what’s so. If I can’t handle the changes in my life now, how am I going to handle that last big change, that final slipping into the unknown? I’m kidding myself if I think I can stay miserable about my losses, yet go gracefully into that Good Night.

I’m mourning. I’m withdrawn. I’ve been depressed, which is different from sad. Depression seeps – it’s a whole, big, generalized “what-for-what’s-it-matter?” Growing up, I felt alone and tormented. I looked to death as a way out – at least, to my idea of death, which I imagined as a release from pain. But Philip’s told me that thinking death is some kind of answer is the same thing as thinking hitting lotto will make everything better. It’s the same in that it’s thinking some event in time, some situation other than the one that is, will be a cure. It doesn’t work that way. And I watch the way I’m responding to life, knowing so much of this heartache is about Ed, but unable feel it that way. I’m disconnected from the source.

When Philip was alive, he’d become my center. A cure for my unsteady. The older he got, the more I let go and the closer we became. But no matter what was between us, while he was alive I wouldn’t have had access to his wisdom the way I do now. And that’s because when we’re alive, there’s a lot of ego-noise that interrupts the flow of what we’d otherwise know to be true. Things like greed, power and desire, which have to do with the body. Philip’s gone from his, yet I experience him clearly and continually. Which doesn’t mean I don’t grieve for him incessantly.

A couple weeks ago, I joined Last week, some guy named Steve sent me an email. Good looking guy, says he’s a trial lawyer, says he does stand-up comedy in NYC, when he can. His letters were funny enough that I believed him. He started his email by stuttering about how  b-b-beautiful  h-h-he  t-t-t-thought I w-was, then launched into funny bit about about where he lived, how he liked my profile, how he’d like to hear from me.

I was smitten. ONE email, and I was smitten.

So I answered him and he answered me and I answered him and it’s all funny and I’m feeling warm and fuzzy. And while I was feeling that warm-fuzzy, I thought of Philip, saw him in lying in the coffin. That’s when I heard him: “Mom,” he said, “You don’t have to choose.” Because that’s what I do. I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to live without him and feeling a certain kind of pleasure just seems wrong. He’s trying to tell me it isn’t.

As for Steve, he was the fantasy guy. The one that makes it seem like it’s so easy because that’s what he does. It was like shooting up pleasure. I mean, it was all about me – he saw how lovely and beautiful and special I was. Hell, he “snuck out of court” to write me!  He made it easy to slip past the goddamn anxiety of real-world dating. But like any fantasy, eventually you wake up. And I don’t mean like Sleeping Beauty, when you find The Prince has been waiting for you. I mean like when your second email doesn’t get answered and the guy hides his profile so he’s inaccessible and it hits you that maybe Prince Charming has a heavy hand when it comes to Cut and Paste.

Two emails was all it took for me to plunge into the netherworld of disappointment. I spent all that Saturday lying on the couch watching “True Detective” for the seventh time. I stopped for half an hour to take a quick drive to Ed’s for a final good-bye. Watching him direct the movers was too much. “I have to go,” I said. “I’ve had enough.” “I know,” he said. “I love you.”

So who the hell was I mourning for, really? For two-email Steve? I think not. I think it ironic that the weekend Ed was leaving was the weekend I let myself be seduced. I used to think that with Philip dead, what the hell could ever bother me again? Now I think that because Philip’s dead, many things bother me more. Prometheus was tied to a rock. Every day an eagle came to peck out his liver, every day it regenerated so the eagle could come back and do it again. It’s like that, except it’s not my liver. It’s my heart.

© 2014 Denise Smyth


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joyce McCartney
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 00:17:26

    I love your heart


  2. kmlagatree
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 06:09:34

    You have a beautiful heart. The pecking has made it so.


  3. lensgirl53
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 07:45:08

    …”every change is practice for death.”….is an understatement. I always knew that my time with my little ones was but a fleeting moment and I made every moment count because of it. Even before Brandon passed into Heaven (not really died but lives still) I knew that. But since his passing I have come to view everything as a “death knell.” of whatever moment I am in …that “this too shall pass.” Whereas I once thought life a precursor to death, I now know in my deepest heart and soul that death is a precursor to life. The painful missing of all that was perfect in the yet to come. Wrapping my arms around you from this cyber distance as your heart takes a new shape. xo


    • Denise
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 17:30:51

      “As my heart takes a new shape” – how lovely is that? I’m so letting you cyber-hug me. I know death is only about bodies; but I’m having the most miserable time trying to work with Philip being gone. You know when it hits you and think you’re going to vomit something awful?

      Thank you, Dale, just for being you.


  4. behindthemask
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 10:33:54

    I think Philip is right it’s okay to enjoy life again. In fact I think that it would make Philip happy if you could allow yourself that. I know that’s much easier said then done, but what good is punishing yourself to him or to you? My heart as always goes out to you. Gentle hugs. xo


    • Denise
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 17:34:00

      Zoe, you’re so right. “You don’t have to choose,” Philip said, with so much love and patience. That’s how I experience him; but I still go weak with grief. It’s the struggle with being human.

      I know you’re there – thank you for your lovely light, because that’s how I experience you.


  5. Denise Hisey
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 15:49:36

    Ouch. Your heart sounds battered and bruised right now, Denise. What a “perfect storm” of heartache you hit.
    It seems this is all part of your ultimate healing, but I know it’s incredibly painful in the moment.
    The fact that you were smitten is a good sign I think. Philip would be proud (after he decked Steve for hurting you). xx


  6. Denise
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 17:37:43

    Denise, I can’t tell you how strongly I feel Philip protecting me. And I think, woe to the guy who thinks he’s going to play around with me.

    I agree about being smitten – it was in that short time that Philip said I didn’t have to choose, and I was able to hear him loud and clear. He certainly didn’t mean anything about “choosing” Steve – he meant it’s okay to feel pleasure and still mourn him. I don’t lose him if I’m happy.


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