I recently experienced the loss of my dear mother-in-law and friend, Olga. She was 101 and 3 months old at the time of her passing. What a life! Even though I could look at her death as expected, (how many of us will ever reach that 100 year mark?) it was still a shock, and still a time of many tears. But it was also a change. A change on a deep level because in having lost a friend, a support system, and a connection to an already dwindling family–she was the official head of that family and had outlived most–I felt cut adrift. Olga was the glue that held us all together. This is the last photo I took of her at age 100.
On arriving home from the funeral in NYC, I walked around in an almost dream like state. I was still grieving, sitting my version of Shiva, which is an eight day mourning period in the Jewish faith. I wore my mourning ribbon every day, pinned to my lucky writing dress. I often found myself touching it like it was a grounding device, and sometimes the ribbon would brush my bare upper arm…a reminder that she was with me in spirit. Food had lost its taste, work didn’t hold any interest. TV was boring. I couldn’t exercise or write, and the only thing I could do was read. Bless romance authors everywhere. I read so many romance novels. Each day bled into the next, just as the stories I’d read had bled into each other. My dreams were mixed with the events of the prior weeks and those many, many stories ranging from romances with cowboys to romances with dragons. My life had become a mish-mash of reality and fantasy.
At the end of Shiva, I knew Olga would want me to resume my life. I tried. There was no inspiration. I could barely put two words, two thoughts on paper. It wasn’t happening. My little stories seemed somehow meaningless, and I doubted that I would continue to write. Talking to anyone required huge effort. I knew I had shut down and isolated myself.
In bed that night, I reached for my trusted book by Deepak Chopra. His words on change hit me hard. He advised to watch for change, use it wisely, and that the transient nature of life can be used to our advantage. I dwelled on that. His words on the principle of change, dictated that going with the flow of life brings creativity and forward movement, and by attempting to freeze events, memories, brings stasis. The flow of life is always self-renewing, inspiration is continuous. The more you create the more there is to create.
Chopra said, and I quote: Your task is to reach into the darkness and pluck out the next thing that will be meaningful.
I closed the book and my gaze settled on the oil painting that I’d brought home with me. It always hung on the right side of the dressing table mirror in the bedroom where I slept in Olga’s home. I’d hung it on the right side of the wall in my bedroom. I turned on another lamp and let the light shine over it. I sensed the beginning of another story.