At the tail end of one of the not-the-greatest-last-week, I found out Gavin has cancer again and needs to have surgery again. He just recovered from his stomach surgery months after having it, so I was looking forward to giving him ease and joy for the remainder of the year. But that’s not what’s in store for us.
That same week, I re-injured my back after throwing it out in February, reaching for shipping tape to pack orders. I typically keep myself strong for all the lifting, bending, and repetitive motion at the shop by lifting weights, but I had spasms so intense last winter that my brother and sister had to come over to dress Gavin to get him outside to potty. When I went to the chiropractor, she could barely adjust me because I was gripping my muscles.
As I’m trying a little DIY physical therapy so I can bundle up my boy this winter and pour full, hot kettles into our piston filler, I’ve been thinking more about releasing and letting go.
Why do we take so much pride in being strong? If I’m honest with myself, during the times in my life I felt most unflappable, I’d also built the highest fence and most enormous moat around my heart. There’s a big difference between wearing our worries and stress on our chest like a badge of honor and allowing ourselves, in private or with those we love, to spontaneously ugly cry, so we unleash our grief and re-connect with our softhearted satisfaction for life’s messy, mundane, and magical moments.
As I’ve been researching the right surgeon to help Gavin, I’ve also been trying to gently and mindfully release the tension in my body that builds when I’m trying hard. I’ve been conscious when I sit on the steps with Gavin to get him out the door and to my mom’s to giggle more as he slither-wiggles-then-pauses down two and three steps at a time. I’ve been deeply exhaling before I help lift him into to car to make sure I’m smart about how I use my body so I can best take care of him today and tomorrow.
May we all keep our hearts open and stay soft, no matter what.