Pete visited me again – this time it was after yoga class. I was sitting on my mat, the rest of the class had left. I was basking in the after glow of mindful movement. I was wondering how long they would let me stay in the space when all of a sudden he was in front of me, in the trademark Scibienski gargoyle squat.
I looked up slightly as if to find his face and he said, “Hi cute girl.” A familiar greeting.
“Hi,” I said.
After a pause, I settled into his “presence,” I asked, “you ok?” A familiar question.
It was the question I had asked so often for the past several years. Pete was so sick for so long. And as I settle into his absence, I am remembering how very sick he was this past year. I thought we had more time together but he was so very sick. And he needed so much of my attention and love and care. And our lives had become quite small, him and me and our greetings – hi cute girl and you ok?
But that morning when I was settling into his presence, I had to imagine that the answer to “you ok?” is quite different than it had been. He was more than ok. He wasn’t sick anymore. He wasn’t wheeling through life anymore. He had full use of his legs and arms and he was squatting like he had done for most of his life.
His answer came to me within his silence. His silence returned the question. “And you? You ok?”
“I think I am. I’m not really sure what ok is. But I’ve started doing yoga again.”
After a pause, I added, “And I miss you.”
And again his silence spoke as if to say, “I miss you too.” and “I want more for you.”
He misses me? Is that how this works? And he wants more for me? More what? Certainly not more grief. Maybe more than grief. More than the gnawing question of how I will do this without him. More than the constant struggle to breathe deeply. More than the confusion of how to live without him.
Maybe those two thoughts go together. Maybe it’s not that he misses me wherever he is but that I am not myself. I am no longer who I was before he died. And I feel it. And I guess if Pete is real, he feels it too. He's right, I am not the same. And I miss me too.
And although I wish I could hold a conversation without my mind drifting. Or hope to go into meetings without breaking down in tears, the missing myself is much deeper. I don't feel like myself. My body feels different all the time. My instincts are not the same. I am acting oddly for me. And it's truly intriguing that no one else seems to notice. In other words, I'm presenting fairly "normal."
I suppose on the outside, I look the same, my relationships are the same, my job is the same, my voice is the same. I know I'm working to provide leadership and care as a pastor, and I'm doing so by relying on skill sets that I have honed over decades of ministry. But as I am living out each moment, I do not feel the same. You know what, Pete? I miss me too.
He misses me and he wants more for me.
But I don't want more. I want him. It all comes back to that. I want life with him. And he wants more for me. He wants me to find life without him. And so I said, “But I don’t want to do this without you.”
When I looked up next, he was standing, waiting for me to get up off my mat. To take my practice into my day. To find myself and to find my more.
Books I'm currently reading:
The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation