Friday, September 12, 2014

Letting Go Part 2: for Barbara

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Dear Barbara,

The anniversary of your death snuck up on me quietly this year. I didn’t feel it as consciously as I did last September, but when I suddenly remembered two days ago what was looming ahead of me, I had an aha moment. Although I can pinpoint many of the reasons this week has felt tough, there was something else that I couldn’t pinpoint, and it was you: it was remembering you – what little time I knew you – at some sort of cellular level.

Eighty dollars. Five whole pies from the Stehekin bakery, plus tax. Two round trip tickets to Stehekin. A tank and a half of gas.

Eighty dollars was all that it took to throw away the rest of my cookbook stock this week. I loaded it into the back of a friend’s truck, took it to a transfer station, and hurled the boxes from my knees from the back of the truck into a huge pile of refuse.

Eighty dollars was not enough. It did not accurately portray the massive amounts of time and energy that I poured into creating those cookbooks, nor the subsequent hours of trying to sell them, nor the muscle it took to move them from place to place as I myself moved locations. It was not enough to encompass all the work of creating my first published books, even if they weren’t what I had first set out to publish. It was not enough to give credence to the hours, days and months of researching to get them made. It was not enough to show both the victory and the defeat in a writer’s first venture into publishing.

Eighty dollars is much less than the storage fees I paid on them; much less than the cost to insure them. Eighty dollars is less than I’ve paid to have Amazon keep them in their warehouse so they’d be an item that qualified for free shipping. 

Eighty dollars brought me to tears over chicken strips and French fries after I had made it out of the transfer station without a backward glance, as if what I had done had not felt like it nearly ripped my heart in two.

Even before you died, Barbara, I wanted those fucking cookbooks to disappear. I wanted them to sell on their own. I did not want to have to push them into the faces of tourists for them to fly off the shelves.  I did what I have been dreaming about since before I left Panama, but it still hurts, and it represents a death of another sort this week, besides the anniversary of your passing. They were certainly not the same sort of death, but their loss is still important. Getting rid of the weight of those books meant the death of old me that holds on even when everything in me is screaming to let go – and the growth of a new me that knows that that in letting go, I will find more freedom than in holding on.

I told someone what I had done later that day. I tried to name all the reasons why it was a good thing as my voice cracked and my hands shook. She nodded and smiled and said, “All that can be true Morgan, but it’s also ok to just admit that it was a really shitty moment.”

I’ve given up over and over again, Barbara, and each time I give up it becomes easier. I give up worrying about what people think on a daily basis. I gave up on trying to fulfill every role that someone put in front of me because I very simply could not handle them all, and very few of them are actually me. And I gave up on my cookbooks because it was time, because I hated them more than I loved them, because it is much harder to hold on than it is to let go, even if the process of letting go is painful.

It reminds me of my last minutes with you, actually. Anyone I spoke to who had any sort of spiritual awareness after you died told me that they could feel how ecstatic you were having left your body behind. All I could see, though, was your last struggle for breath – your attempt to stay in your body, how you didn’t want to let go. Even right after it happened I marveled at the soul’s connection to this life, which is where my thoughts always turn when I’m faced with death. Why do we hold on so hard if so many traditions teach us that what’s on the other side is so much better?

Perhaps it’s just human nature – perhaps it is just the human side of me that wants to hold on for dear life when the rest of me is begging me to let go. Perhaps in those moments the fear overtakes the peace. Perhaps it is just one more piece we’re supposed to learn. 

Or perhaps, as you most likely know by now, the struggle is just a small one in comparison to the rewards reaped on the other side. 

Perhaps letting go includes releasing the tears that have to be shed to complete the process.

Love and released kisses
Morgan